Spiritual Gentleness

FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT MEMORIAL IN WASHINGTON, DC

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1

A single sin can cause a destructive chain reaction in a multitude of ways. Sin quenches the Spirit, separates us from God, limits our fullness in the Lord, steals our inward peace, and can lead us to sin again. In Galatians 6, Paul addresses how we should embrace accountability for ourselves as well as gently walk beside our brothers and sisters with a concern for their spiritual maturity.

Concern and care for ourselves and others guides our knowledge of God’s loving-kindness. It reminds me of Brandon Heath’s song, Give Me Your Eyes. The chorus is filled with a desire to extend God’s compassion by praying for the Lord’s sight, love, heart, and empathy. God’s perspective directs our actions to extend a supernatural love we are unable to do on our own.

Our reaction to sin, especially that of others, can be just as injurious as the sin itself. Paul warns us of being critical and harsh when we see the iniquity of others. Their wrongdoing is no different from our own transgressions. When we humble ourselves in the Spirit and recognize our own weakness and susceptibility to sin then we can welcome spiritual gentleness for our brother in Christ.

Galatians 6:2-5 states:

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.

Let us pray for eyesight which overcomes our blindness to see our neighbor as ourselves. May we desire listening ears without a judging heart. Let us permit the Spirit to give us empathy for others and the ability to comfort with God’s love. May every fiber within us be quick to extend compassion and understanding. And most of all, let us accept correction when we fall short in our spiritual maturity.

Mark 12:30-31 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.

Stay in the right lane

San Diego, California

Do you have a new car? I am blessed to experience driving newer vehicles due to my job. The rental car agency has outstanding service and quite the variety of vehicles. I am always intrigued by what I might drive from week to week. Most of the vehicles have bells and whistles that my trusty, paid for ride lacks. Yes, occasionally a manual would come in handy. (Seriously, who puts the gas tank release on the door panel?)    

Recently, I have found myself in Nissans. Each one has proven to be a smooth ride with a roomy interior. The heated seats have definitely been an added plus on those chilly mornings when I leave before the rooster crows. Most have had the ability to control the speed and distance on the highway with respect to the vehicle ahead of me. But let’s talk about the lane departure assistance.

The lane departure warning does provide an alert if the vehicle leaves the traveling lane. The steering wheel vibrates, an audio alert occurs, and a visual appears at the slightest detection of crossing over your traveling lane. What a super feature when you aren’t driving in construction zones. After several hours of the feature, I truly wanted to disengage it.

This experience brought to mind Galatians 5. Paul highly encourages us to stay in the right lane when walking out our freedom. It is a battle to keep from crossing over into the sinful nature lane of life. The struggle is real for each of us. Galatians 5:24 says that those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Denying the acts of our sinful nature requires devoted, intentional living.

Galatians 5:25 reminds us that the Holy Spirit is in us guiding our lives but we have to stay in the same traveling lane as the Spirit. This is how we find life in the Spirit, a gift from God just like freedom in Christ Jesus. We have to rely on the Spirit to define our traveling lane and speed. It requires discipline and attentiveness to his alerts.  

For me personally, I cannot fulfill God’s will without living by the Spirit. I rely on the Holy Spirit to work in me and through me to exhibit pleasing fruit. It is through the mighty power of the Spirit that I have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When I try to live life my way and revert to my sinful nature, I find myself off track and definitely in danger of destruction.

I cannot disengage the lane departure warning the Holy Spirit gives me. I must stay in tune to the sound of his voice, “Stay in the right lane!” What about you?

BOOK REVIEW: Chazown

Groeschel, C. (2017). Chazown revised and updated edition. New York, NY:Multnomah.

SUMMARY: Chazown is a book assisting readers to find God’s purpose which is designed for them. The writing is divided into five sections, creating a “Chazown” discovery process. Pastor Craig clearly addresses the need for individuals to embrace a vision and the importance of aligning it with God’s will. The method presented attends to personal core values, spiritual gifts, and past experiences. Readers are urged to establish a purpose statement and a plan of action. Groeschel concentrates on five fundamentals of a person’s vision as relationships with God, people, finances, health, and work. In closing, the author discusses the significance of accountability and the magnitude in plays on staying “hot” for God. The book is supported with online resources and participant guide.

MY $.02: I have been on the hunt for a prominent means to support individuals in discerning their unique, God-given purpose. Before reading Chazown, the main resource I referred others to employ was Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life. Groeschel’s book is a valuable read for those who lack direction and/or unsure of their God-given purpose.

Chazown is thoroughly laid out with many concise, straight to the point chapters. Groeschel presents several scenarios, written illustrations, and personal experiences. The book is filled with scripture references and meaningful key points which are thought provoking and relevant. I found myself mesmerized by various topics presented because they paralleled with my writing of Refining.

One thing that caught my attention was his distinctive weight given to a person’s past. His key thought in this area was “Your past often holds the key to unlock your future.” He denotes the magnitude of purpose in your grief, pain, heartache, etc. Groeschel had a way of validating life’s residue as part of my endurance and making me feel well-equipped to live out God’s plan because I have undergone a very qualified past.

This is a remarkable read for those individuals who have not taken the time to ascertain their individual purpose, core values, and spiritual gifts. I found it useful in re-examining my vision and goals. It supports the reader in the process and allows an individual to discern areas of needs. The online resources and study guide questions make the discovery doable. The massive amount of scripture references reinforced the material and maintained the primary focus-God’s exceptional plan for each life. I bought more than one copy because it is worth the investment to share with others.    

Don’t just take my word for it:

https://tinyurl.com/u3tj6jc

Poetry: Broken Pieces

Refining Retreat Station

Poetry was my first emotional release in written form when I was in junior high. I had an English teacher who really pushed me to create poetry. She validated worth in my life and established a healthy outlet to cope with circumstances in life. Through her prompting and encouragement, I found direction, hope, and courage. I walked away from her class with a love for poetry, a list of higher goals , and a mindset to take bold chances.

My teacher was an example of perseverance. The world would probably label her as broken. Her body was weak from multiple sclerosis, She could barely walk with leg braces and her hands were severely affected. Her classroom was on the second floor. I would watch her go up and down the two flights of stairs daily. The struggle was real yet she exhibited endurance with each step. There was no doubt that she had inner strength from a higher source. She displayed it every single day.

Music, art, and poetry are still part of my therapy today. These modes of expression seem to touch the depths of my soul and fill me with delight. I am able to connect with the emotional aspect of each song, painting, and poem. I am especially moved when God’s promises are immersed within the message.

We all have struggles and dark clouds that sometimes hang overhead. These trials can leave us feeling less than we are and far from what we were meant to be. It requires us to seek healthy coping mechanisms in order to go forward. Although the modes of therapy vary for each of us, the true source of complete healing comes from our Lord and Savior. I encourage you to find your outlet.

Want to know my personal struggles and mistakes? How did I cope? What helped me from throwing in the towel? This poem is a good summary…Enjoy!

Broken Pieces

If you are broken by life trials
and weary from life’s defeats.
If you have been badly battered
and have no joy or peace.
Give God your broken pieces
so He will mold them back in place.
He can make them better than before
with a touch of His sweet grace.
If your dreams have been shattered
after much struggle and pain.
Even if your life seems hopeless
God can restore you again.
God can take broken pieces
and He can make them whole.
It matters not how badly broken
God has the power to restore.
So we are never without hope
no matter the shape we are in.
God can take our fragmented lives
and put them together again.
So if you’re broken beyond measure
and you don’t know what to do.
God specializes in broken things
so His glory can shine through.

–Lenora McWhorter

Elasticity in Life: Scripture

Proverbs 4:23 states, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Our actions and words are a reflection of our heart. Boy, do I know when my heart is out-of-line! It calls for an immediate alignment and restoring my heart under the authority of the Lord. What about you?

God used some of my “unguarded” years to capture my attention and grant me wisdom in handling life His way. During my five years of darkness, I felt like I was going to snap like a weak rubber band. Have you been there? What has stretched you-finances, job, family, self, school, health, death, etc.? Once that rubber band begins to show signs of wear and tear, I guarantee we all start crying out for relief. I began really listening to God and desperately pleading for His knowledge because nothing I was doing in my own power seemed to accomplish anything.

Life can be deceiving and distracting which is just a few of the enemy’s tactics to keep you from relying on God. The only effective way to gauge everything we encounter in life is through a truth meter—God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us that “all scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work”. Scripture imparts truth and endows strength to fight against anything opposing God’s will.

Scripture is “core-strengthening” for our heart. When we turn from our worldly coping methods (the cheap “rubber-band” fix) and rely on God’s Word (an unbelievable resistance band) we receive the true fuel we need to keep going. The elasticity of our life becomes supernatural and we are capable of performing under God’s power to resist the lies, deception, and destruction of the enemy.  Scripture is our sword but it requires our weapon of defense to be sharpened through studying God’s Word.

Read it, write it down, display it, quote it, pray it—get an amazing and rewarding workout. Just Do It!

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