What Am I Displaying? Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit

A few weeks ago was Pentecost Sunday. It was the celebration of that day, 50 days after the Resurrection, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the believers gathered together, waiting for the Helper that Jesus had promised them.  “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. – John 16:12-15, ESV Jesus promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come. Because without Him, we are unable to bear all of the truths we need to. We are like children, unable to see the world for what it is, unable to comprehend truths that are far beyond us, but God does not leave us in this place. He advocates, He assists, He sends part of Himself, part of His Triune being, to walk through our life with us. The Holy Spirit fell upon God’s people like a mighty wind and the world has never been the same.   I have always lived as part of the Body of Christ. I do not remember a time without the Holy Spirit aiding me. But I often wonder what it would have been like to live in that room, to feel that initial rush. And I wonder, do I take for granted the gift God has given me by sending the Holy Spirit? Do I display the fruit of the Spirit in my life, or do I retain the bonds of slavery, convinced I know better? Do I display the fruit of the Spirit in my life, or do I retain the bonds of slavery, convinced I know better? But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the…

Read More

Reading the Word of God (A He Reads Truth Bible Review and Giveaway)

The Word of God is living and active. Every, single word of it is God-breathed and useful for equipping us to live the holy life God has called us to.  But for some reason, it is often a struggle to crack open the covers and breathe in the life-giving words God has provided us. There are many reasons why we struggle, but one of the reasons I most frequently hear cited is overwhelm – not knowing where to begin or how to study our Bibles.  There are many tools to help equip you in reading and understanding your Bible, but I’m excited to share with you the new He Reads Truth Bible, which I received to review and give away to one of you, in exchange for this honest review.  The He Reads Truth Bible is filled with many neat features to help you engage with Scripture. It is written in the Christian Standard Bible® (CSB) which I had previously not had much experience with but greatly enjoyed. It is clear, direct, and easy to read. In addition to its beautiful, hardcovered binding, it is full of tools mingled throughout the text to help make Scripture clear and easy to read.  The features include 66 hand-lettered key verses, 17 full-color timelines, 21 maps, 122 charts (including infographics and lists) as well as reading plans (both a one-year reading plan and plans for each book of the Bible) as well as detailed book introductions.  Since this was the He Reads Truth Bible, I decided to get a guy’s perspective and asked my husband for his thoughts on the layout and design. The infographics and timelines were my husband’s favorite part of the Bible. They make it clear to understand different principles (we LOVED the one covering the Beatitudes). The timelines before the books written by the Minor Prophets intrigued me as those books tend to blur together and can be difficult to understand without some historical background.  While simply the Bible is always enough, it is often wise to engage with the tools and wisdom of the others in the Body of Christ. The He Reads Truth Bible is a great way to do that. It is an amazing gift to help any man in your life, any husband, father brother, or friend, read the Word of God more regularly.  You can enter to win a copy of the He Reads Truth…

Read More

What to Expect at the Maundy Thursday Service (And Why It’s My Favorite Church Service of the Year)

When I was in high school, I babysat for one of our pastor’s children. I always enjoyed the conversation with him and his wife because neither of them talked down to me about truth but spoke about theological truths, difficulties of the life, and our Christian faith as if I was an equal, not someone to talked down to in simple terms.  On particular conversation during Holy Week led to them asking if I was going to attend the Maundy Thursday service. I may have attended in the past with my family but typically, Good Friday and Easter Sunday took front and center of our celebrations and I had put very little thought into Maundy Thursday (The pastor and his wife graciously corrected my mispronunciation of “Monday” Thursday by simply repeating the name and telling me of its origin instead of calling me our directly.)  Despite my reservations, their insistence that Maundy Thursday was their favorite service of the year led me to walk into the Church on that Thursday evening and see what all the fuss was about and why this service had impacted them both so much. Despite my reservations, their insistence that Maundy Thursday was their favorite service of the year led me to walk into the Church on that Thursday evening and see what all the fuss was about and why this service had impacted them both so much. I had no idea what to expect at a Maundy Thursday service. I was still in my Easter and Christmas phase of celebrating the Church Calendar. I may have given something up for Lent a handful of times but it was more of an excuse to commit myself to a new diet idea than to discipline myself through fasting. But walking into Maundy Thursday was a turning point, a reminder that there deep Biblical truths that we have forgotten to remind ourselves of through celebration and commemoration.  Good Friday is a somber service, but it is expected to be so. Maundy Thursday is startling, it draws us into the night of Christ’s betrayal, an evening that began with dinner around a table with close friends and ended with sweating blood in extreme anxiety, experiencing deep betrayal by a friend, and walking forward willingly to enduring a torturous death.  The Maundy Thursday services I’ve been to have always followed a similar pattern. It begins in an upbeat, if…

Read More

If You’re Hurting and Wondering Where God Was, He’s Weeping With You

One of the hardest questions we wrestle with as believers is where God is when tragedy strikes our homes. If we believe in the sovereignty of God, then we know in our hearts that He could have intervened, could have stopped the accident from happening, the cancer from spreading, the company from going under, the marriage from collapsing. Because our God is the true miracle-worker, but sometimes, we are left asking why we were standing there alone when we stood, expectantly waiting for the Miracle-Worker to arrive and save the day.  And sometimes, He shows up in big, remarkable ways where we can do nothing but exclaim, “Look what God has done!”  But then there are days when we are left, standing empty-handed, crawling into the arms of God asking Him where He was when we needed Him. But then there are days when we are left, standing empty-handed, crawling into the arms of God asking Him where He was when we needed Him.  These are moments of great confusion. Feelings of betrayal well up into a lump in my own throat as I try to reason with myself why a good God would allow His people to undergo such heartache.  My temptation is to simply try and stuff down those feelings quickly by trying to claim some deeper theological understanding of God’s goodness exceeding my own. And while I know His ways are above my own, I think this desire to move past the heartache and confusion, to pretend that all is well even when it feels that I might burst into a million pieces, it misguided.  When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. – John 11:32-35, ESV This passage has often been nourishment to my weeping soul. Because Jesus listened when we Mary knew he could have healed her brother before He died and wondered why He hadn’t shown up when they needed Him. She believed and felt let down by Jesus.  And instead of pushing it aside, she confronted those icky, complicated feelings and told…

Read More

I’m Offended. Now What? How to Deal with Sin Biblically

Too often, I am offended. Sometimes it is intentional, sometimes it is unintentional, and sometimes it’s simply because I need thicker skin. It hurts. Whether the wounds are from a friend, an enemy, or someone in between, it burns deeply. Jesus knew we would deal with offenses. He urged us not to lash out and seek revenge, but to turn the other cheek. But within the Church, He also provided clear guidelines on how we should handle being offended by another’s sin. Sometimes, the best way to preserve peace is to protect the purity of the Church by calling out sin in love and encouraging one another to repent. Instead of simply cowering and sweeping it under the rug or lashing out in a public, holier than thou attitude, Christ calls us to confront sin with compassion and confidence.  Christ urges us to address sin, not simply hurt feelings.  “If your brother sins against you” is the qualifier for if this applies to your situation (Matthew 18:15, ESV). We shouldn’t stir up problems in the church by creating problems over misunderstandings. Our own motives need to be examined. Are we seeking to protect the purity of the Church or to justify our hurt feelings (and maybe our uncharitable responses to those feelings)? As you evaluate whether or no you need to confront someone over an offense, put yourself in their shoes and try to evaluate if there’s truly sin that needs to be repented of or simply a misunderstanding. If it is the latter, try to extend the grace you would want extended to you and overlook it.  Start by addressing it privately  Avoid giving in to the sin of gossip by addressing directly what is happening directly to the offending party. Don’t try to justify gossip by trying to hide it in the form of asking several people for “advice” in the form of venting your anger. Be directly, but loving go to the person who offended you and tell them the fault you see. This not only is a compassionate way of allowing them to make things right privately but also allows for you to see if there was any way you were in error. Speak the Truth in Love If we are trying to urge another member of our Church family to repentance from sin, we need to be motivated by a place of love.  Rather, speaking…

Read More
1d4a7af8d08de24801fc74d62774cf0a8fadd0f88f77b989ab