What’s wrong with this picture?

whats wrong with this picture

photo taken May 25th, 2018, 4:12pm

We had stopped at this location to see a frozen lake and landscape on our way to Banff.  It was majestic as far as the eye could see, the mountains, the ice cap, the beautiful blue sky, and this lake that until now was frozen solid and had just begun to melt.

When into the frame stepped this young man with a paddle board… hmmm.  Now I’m not one to judge, but it did cause me to contemplate, “What is he thinking?”  Surely he is not going to plunge himself, on purpose, into this ice cold water, then paddle board around for the afternoon… is he?  I don’t know how this story ended.  It was time to load the bus, and go on to the next site on the list.  So, we never saw him go in, only his intention to do so.

The action of the young man weighed on me as I consider life around me today.  I don’t know what causes some people to just “jump” into an irrational pattern of behavior.  I don’t understand how this action would even be a consideration.  Maybe it is as simple as this young man considers himself to be a “paddle-boarder.”  So in all kinds of weather, regardless of hot or cold, he goes paddle boarding.  I guess I could accept that.

I also know that it might be how people look at me.  I consider myself to be a person of faith, long-time pastor/teacher.  So whether in adversity, or peace; when I’m sick or when I’m healthy; whether I have little, or a lot… my thoughts turn to scripture and its applications for life today.  It’s who I am.

What came oozing out of this young man’s veins was, “I need to go paddle boarding,” it’s who he is.

What comes oozing out of you on a daily basis?  And does the world around you always understand why it does?

There is one sure-fire way to determine people of faith in the chaos of the world today.  When it’s freezing spiritually, or when it’s beautiful spiritually, the person of faith is seen this way: they are … loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and in control of themselves.   How do I know this?  Read Galatians 5:22-23.

The world in chaos and darkness will look at you the same way I looked at this young man… and they won’t understand it.  But make no mistake, God’s Holy Spirit will use you in these actions to make a difference in your world.  So let the “fruit” of God’s Spirit inside you work through you today.

 

 

Patience

In this age and time, a universal culture of instant gratification exists which seemingly yields not at all to the very concept of patience.  Not only do people flit from here to there seeking the next “thing” to satisfy their narcissistic pursuits of self-indulgence, but the momentary pleasure they achieve in these pursuits is so short term they impatiently enjoy the achievement, never satisfied, never satiated, never at peace.  My belief is that nothing in scripture is by accident, or haphazardly written.  So when I look at the list Paul gave the church in Galatia regarding what it means to be a true Christ-follower, and having the Holy Spirit living in us, producing in us the “fruit” of our faith in Christ… well, I contend there is order to what is written.  He wrote:

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

People today, yes-even Christ-followers today, struggle with the idea of patience because somewhere along their walk of faith, one or all three of the initial items Paul talks about is off track.  It is truly difficult to be patient about anything in life, if there is no peace in your walk of faith with Christ.  If you are not at peace – with yourself, others around you, your spouse, your family, your co-workers, then something about joy is off track.  And if your joy is nowhere to be found, then something about your love is out of focus.  Do you follow what I’m saying here?

Now, here’s the thing.

I believe each of these 9 attributes are “supposed” to be found in every true Christ-follower, every day, all the time…  but how many people do you know who really look like the image here, in real time, in real life?  I can’t look in the mirror on any given day without realizing something about one of these attributes is either missing, or dormant in my daily routines.  When I realize this, I have to ask the question, “how did I get here?”

Now this is really simple.  If I’m right, and these attributes are linear, while I may think I have great self-control, if I don’t have patience, how could I be in control of my emotions, or actions?  That seems disingenuous to me.  At the least it is hypocritical, but worse, it opens the door for Satan to defeat me spiritually, by causing me to believe I’m more in tune with Christ than I really am.

If in fact these attributes are linear, all predicated on the attribute that comes before, then all these attributes stem from the original… love.  I will never know all of what God wants me to know; nor will I experience all that God has planned for me… until I yield fully to the love of God, by surrendering my heart fully to Jesus.  In that moment, I experience His love as He intends it.  Which opens the floodgates of joy into my life.  Yielding to the Spirit in joy, opens the path to peace.  And the progression continues until I am completely yielded to the Holy Spirit’s direction for my life, and find in the end… self-control, by the Spirit’s power.

No patience today?  Go back … turn back to Christ in faith and ask the Spirit to reveal which part of these attributes is off track in your life.  And for goodness sake, be open to what the Spirit wants to do in you… and be patient while the Spirit answers your prayer… well, at least try to be…

Patience

 

Silhouette of Faith

silhouetteWhat does faith really look like?  Is there a way to pinpoint it with any accuracy?  The image here is offensive to some, but represents the saving power of God to others.  Paul the Apostle wrote, “For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” [1 Corinthians 1:18]  Faith then, is an action on our part, evidenced by the resulting transformed life of the true Christ-follower, by the power of God.  What does that even mean?

This silhouette of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary captures for us in black and white, the sacrifice of our Lord, paying the penalty for our sin, offering each of us the grace of forgiveness and eternal life.  When we accept this reality, stepping over the line of faith into Jesus, His own Holy Spirit is implanted in us.  Then, day by day, as the power of this saving love begins to shape our lives, the more we obey His words, keep His commands, trust the Holy Spirit to lead us, guide us, provide for us, we become… more and more like Jesus.  Paul also wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”  [Galatians 2:20]  In this way, faith is not a once-and-done action.  No, faith is a step, followed by another step, followed by another step… of faith.  “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” [Colossians 2:6]  Well, how did you receive Christ? [by faith]  Then we are to walk [live]… by faith!

So what happens over time, when we walk in faith, step by step, continuing to yield more of our lives to the Holy Spirit’s control?  The proof is in the pudding, right?  It’s not about judging someone else, or suggesting some Christians are more “Christian” than others, right?  It really is about self-examination, and it’s about understanding a way to tell if I’m really experiencing the transformed life, that should naturally occur (by God’s supernatural power) if I am in Jesus.  So put yourself to the test… Galatians 5:22-23:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”  The fruits listed here are the RESULTS of a transformed life.  If you could paint a silhouette of what this looks like, it would look very much like the image above… The Cross of Jesus.

So tell me… what would the silhouette of your life resemble?

 

 

Silhouette