When I was nearly six years old, I watched my father sketch portraits of my siblings and me with unmistakable attention to detail. He captured the essence of us in charcoal strokes. Have you ever watched a professional do something really hard, but make it look really easy? Were you inspired after the Master’s golf tournament, only to lament the trials of putt-putt? Did you follow One Shining Moment with an awesome display of air balls on your driveway hoop? In order to fully appreciate an art, I’d argue we must engage in it ourselves. Knowing the nuances, the details, the minutia - the cost - gives reference. Reverence and respect grow as understanding deepens. Forgiveness is no different. To the degree we can grasp the gravity of perfect forgiveness on Christ’s cross is likely an accurate predictor of our own ability to forgive. Failure to forgive admits ignorance to our own forgiven-ness. To be sure, we’re not interested in a test of willpower in which we commit ourselves to be kinder, more polite people to those from whom we’ve felt hurt. No - we desperately need freedom from underside the weight of unforgiveness. Holding onto hurt simply perpetuates our woundedness. The exciting work of the Spirit’s presence is that He both awakens us to the opportunity of our own forgiveness as well as enables us to extend it to others, whether they ask for it, deserve it or even know it themselves. Let us become so taken by the cross’s absolution for our own sins, we cannot help but overflow with grace for those of others toward us. Commit to spending five minutes today reflecting on nothing more than Christ’s agonizing death for the sake of our forgiveness. Ask the Spirit to empower you with that same grace.
June 13, 2019
Love • June 21, 2019
Love. A word tossed around as much as any, but perhaps understood less than most. When something’s been cited as both the starter of war and the motive behind martyrdom, it’s difficult to understand all that it implies. So we know we’re called to live it, but we don’t understand how love should look. I think if God would have us know anything about love, He’d want us to know that He is love. As His adoptive sons and daughters, it is our inheritance and it is our obligation. And our call to love can be summed up in nothing more than seeking Him. Our problem is instead we seek pseudo-love in lesser goods and wonder why dysfunction follows. Pseudo-love seeks feeling loved and goes to any length to get it. Pseudo-love does good with hidden agendas of accolades, amends or satisfaction at the least. Pseudo-love manipulates with kindness and serves self in the name of goodness. We have muddied our legacy of love with our narrow-minded motives. Let us seek the King and His kingdom and, as result, watch love be released on every corner of this marbled planet. Only in faithfulness to the God who is love can we embody it accordingly. Commit to taking a few minutes today to asking the Father to fill you up with His perfect and pure love that you may spill it out to those around.
Intro to Fruits of the Spirit • June 20, 2019
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 It would be hard to talk of the Spirit and not consider what He makes manifest in our lives. For the next portion of our journey to Pentecost, we’ll unpack one fruit of the Spirit per day, reflecting on why or why not and to what extent each quality may be evident in our own lives. But before inclining ourselves to yield more fruit, we must hear this most clearly: our application of the fruits is not a lesson in behavior modification. Sheer will to do good is sure to fail. The fruits of the Spirit are called fruits for a reason. They are the result, the produce, the product. The fruits are not the objective. They are evidence of the objective. We do not aim for the fruit. We channel our efforts into transfiguration and the fruit is what naturally follows. Our focus, then, should not be on displaying outwardly more fruits of the Spirit, but in permeating ourselves inwardly with the Spirit himself. As in any athletic competition or artistic performance, the results take care of themselves. Our part in the game is to orient ourselves to the process. The more we steep our soul in the Spirit through the Word, through prayer, through journaling or any other means of connecting with God, the more good fruit will follow. For we know that “a good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart.” (Luke 6:45) Commit to immersing yourself in whatever fruit of the Spirit we are studying these next nine days. Focus more on receiving that fruit from the Spirit as opposed to straining to manufacture it yourself.