f.o.t.s. // peace

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

How did it feel to be joyful all day? I hope you are responding well to the challenge of living out the Fruit of the Spirit. Remember, it’s not a competition, and no one is perfect. This should not be easy for anyone, but it should definitely be rewarding (“fruitful”). Hang in there and know that there are a lot of people praying for you.

Wednesday is Day 3 – PEACE

This doesn’t mean you should walk around all day acting like a hippy; wearing tie-died shirts and waving peace signs to everyone, and no one expects you to set up an anti-war booth, but think of realistic ways that you can be an example of the peace that only God can give, and then try to help someone else feel that same peace. There’s an inner peace that some people feel as a result of knowing that they have a Savior in Jesus Christ who died on a cross for you, so that no matter how hard things get for you on earth, you will one day leave this earth and go to a place more perfect than you can even imagine – heaven. A place where peace is a reality…not just a dream.

May the peace of Christ, which passes all understanding, be with you today and always. Amen.

Day 4 – Patience

Advertisements

f.o.t.s. // joy

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

How did the first day go? I have a feeling you were a great example of God’s love at school, home, work, and everywhere else you spent time on Monday. As you were thinking of ways to show love to others, perhaps you already thought of this, but something obvious that I should have suggested is to tell the people who are most important to you how much you love them. Even if you’re reading this on Tuesday, perhaps you still want to make a point to do that?

Tuesday is Day 2 – JOY

In case you forgot, that means from the time you wake up on Tuesday morning until you go to bed Tuesday night, you are going to be an example of joy.

To be filled with joy or be “joyful” means to be happy, excited, and filled with a positive spirit. A joyful person is fun to hang out with and it’s hard not to stop their happiness from rubbing off on you.

Joy is also something that often fills us up when we worship God.

Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious!  (Psalm 66:1-2)

Jesus talked about the joy he felt in his life because of his closeness with God, and he wanted to share that joy with us.

Jesus said, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”  (John 15:10-11)

The apostle Paul wrote a lot about joy in his letters to Christians in cities where he helped start churches. The book of Romans is an example of one of these letters. Here’s are a few verses from Romans about joy…

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.  (Romans 12:12-13)

Here’s a verse from Romans that works well as a blessing blessing as we begin Day 2:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 15:13)

Have a joyful and joy-filled day. Here’s a quick prayer to go with you…

Dear God, fill us with the joy that comes from you, and help us share some of it with others. Amen.

Day 3 – Peace

f.o.t.s. // love

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law.   (Galatians 5:22-23)

Monday is Day 1 – LOVE

From the time you wake up on Monday until you go to bed on Monday night, concentrate on being an example of God’s love in everything you do. That’s right…EVERYTHING!

Did you know that the Bible uses the word “love” almost 700 times? Now I know it’s a big book, but 700 times, but if the Bible uses the word that many times then it must be important that we be loving people, don’t you think?

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Everyone has the ability to love, not just Christians. But Christianity is the only religion that has seen what God’s love looks like.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  (John 3:16)

We saw God’s love when Jesus died on the cross for our sins, but Jesus’ entire life was an example of God’s love. Just look at some of his teachings.

Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  (John 15:12-13)

Who does the Bible say is our source of love?

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  (1 John 4:7-12)

What does the Bible say love looks like?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.  (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

Here’s a simple prayer to send us out into the first day…

Dear God, help us be examples of your love in all we do today. Amen.

Day 2 – Joy

f.o.t.s. // fruit of the spirit

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law.   (Galatians 5:22-23)

Tonight at Journey we talked about some of the opposing/competing forces in our world. The series we have been in the last two weeks is called Geek Squad, and keeping with that theme, we’ve been discussing the digital/computer world that is at the center of most of our realities. Recognizing that we’re at a historical crossroads in terms of electronic competence, we considered the differences between generations…pointing out that people either get it (digital natives) or have no idea (digital immigrants). Among both categories of today’s digital inhabitants, we looked at the aggressive marketing between the two most common platforms of computers: macs & pcs.

Shifting from tech-talk to faith-talk, we picked up where we left off the week before (Ephesians 5). We spent a lot of the time in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, chapter 5 in particular, which is where Paul writes about two opposing forces at work in all our lives: sinful nature & the spirit (of the Holy Spirit variety). Discussing our lives as people who are “free” (to do what we want, including the freedom to sin), Paul lists things like hatred, jealousy and selfishness, among others, as attitudes/behaviors that we have the ability and freedom to live out…quickly pointing out that they will all keep us from experiencing the life God intends for us.

It’s the end of Galatians 5 that deserves our focus. This is where Paul introduces his famous list of virtues known as the “Fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23, see above). If you’re up for the challenge, these “fruit” will be our guide for the next week and a half, as we do our best to live them out (one at a time) over the next 9 days…starting with “Love” tomorrow (Monday).

Many of you already signed up to receive the daily devotional/guides for this experience by email, but if not, it’s really easy:

  1. Near the top-right of this page (just below the calendar), click “[+] Subscribe to emails.” (To avoid being taken away from this page, right-click the link and select “Open Link in New Tab.”)
  2. Enter your email address in the new window that opens.
  3. Check your email to activate your subscription. (That’s it. Now you’ll receive the daily emails.)

I will post the devotional/guides each night and they will always be for the next day. If you signed up for the emails, it’s set up to send them each night (I’m not sure what time), so the plan is that you will either read the guides at night (for the next day) or first thing in the morning (for that day).

Make sense? Sorry there was so much explanation, but I wanted to make sure everyone starts at the same point.

Anyone can read the entries on anewdoxology.com, and can start the f.o.t.s. challenge/experience whenever they want, but to receive the emails that accompany this you will need to subscribe in the next few days (note: I am posting this on January 11, 2009). If you know others who might want to be part of this, please send them the info they need.

For those of you who were not at Journey tonight, you can listen to the message (“PC vs. Mac”) below.

Just imagine what the world would be like if people were not only living “purpose-driven” lives, but were also living Spirit-Led Lives.

Here we go…are you ready to live by the spirit? (Click the link below)

Day 1 – Love

already/not yet…when and where is God’s Kingdom?

“Your kingdom come, your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.”

In the middle of Jesus’ training prayer with his disciples (Matthew 6:9-13), he spoke this phrase in reference to God’s coming Kingdom and will (or plan) for the world. My mom forwarded me an email this morning discussing this passage of the Lord’s Prayer, it was actually an excerpt from a book and the title of the daily devotion was “Where have you had a taste of the Kingdom?” This is an intriguing question, especially since we all experience “the Kingdom” in different ways, times and places – and many people probably wouldn’t describe these experiences as “Kingdom moments” – and as for the “how” of the question, it implies that we are apparently able to use our senses (including taste) to experience these moments.

I could write a lot about the imagination and possibilities involved in the wording of this question, but regardless of the when, where or hows that are involved in people’s experiences with the sacred/spiritual in our world, I want to include Richard’s Daily Meditation from today because I think it offers a good/brief description of when and where the Kingdom of God is found here on earth today.

“Thy kingdom come” means very clearly that the Kingdom is something that enters into this world, or, as Jesus puts it, “is close at hand.” Don’t project it into another world. It’s a reality that breaks into this world now and then, when people are like God.

When that can happen in terms of structures or groups, when you have a free group of people who love the truth more than themselves, then you have a taste of the Kingdom descending to earth.

“Your Kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” is my favorite and most-used phrase from the Lord’s Prayer. I’ve used it in several papers and sermons as a way of not only talking about what God is doing “right here, right now” but also because I think it calls us to do something, to actively work with and on behalf of God in the world – in whatever ways we see possible – to help Jesus’ prayer become a reality.

George Eldon Ladd was a seminary professor during the 1900s who taught that the future Kingdom of God – what many people believe we are waiting for, heaven – is already here on earth (through the church), but it won’t be complete until Jesus returns (again). This has become known as the “already/not yet” theology of God’s kingdom.

What about you? How do you understand the Kingdom of God? How have you experienced it in your own life? Where have you seen God working in your world? Have you ever witnessed people doing God’s will and helping bring glimpses of God’s Kingdom to earth? What senses have been involved in your experiences with God moving closer to us, to meet us here and now? Where have you had a taste of the Kingdom?

Open your imagination to the endless possibilities of how God can work in and through any part of creation. God can use music, art, nature, technology, even the media to speak to people and whisper a message of hope, joy, love or forgiveness. Individuals can be inspired to get involved in efforts to make a difference in the world – God’s movement in and for the world – by watching a movie, hearing a song, reading a book or even seeing others make a difference on the news or a TV show. Allow yourself to be free of any perceived expectations and simply follow the Spirit into the world to make a difference in whatever ways are available to you. Maybe it’s something small, or perhaps it’s something big. Don’t worry about the specifics, just start with the simple prayer that God’s “Kindom will come and God’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Subject: Can I share?

[If you haven’t been following the emails I’ve been sharing between me and my friend Jenny, you can click HERE to read Jenny’s first email and then go through and read the rest in order (they are all linked together). You might notice from the time stamps at the top of each email that we seemed to stop writing after only about 3 days, but we have actually continued writing (although not as regularly) for the past six weeks, and we brought a few other people into the conversation as well. After struggling to coordinate schedules, four of us actually got together at a friend’s house last week to have dinner and a really interesting conversation about a lot of the questions in these emails. I sent Jenny an email a few days ago to thank her for bringing everyone together for a great conversation and ask her if it was okay to share some of our emails here (her response is below). I want to thank her for allowing me to share these with you, not only because it is a bit of a window into her life and faith (and that can be a scary thing to share with people, especially in a space like this), but also because I think her specific thoughts and questions express the way many people think and wonder about God’s role in their lives and the world. Although I realize I don’t have any of this figured out any better than the next person, I hope someone got something out of reading all these emails. If you have thoughts you’d like to share (or questions you’d like to ask) in response to anything in particular, or even about the conversation as a whole, please leave a comment.]

From: Jenny
To: Andy
Subject: Re: Can I share?
Date: Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 1:22 PM

Hey Andy. I don’t mind at all if you use portions of our emails on your blog, and thank you for taking time out of your night to meet with us. I think one of the biggest things I came away with last night was the fact that faith is more of a journey, and not a destination. I think I kind of already knew that, but many of the things you shared really drove it home for me. I know life is very busy, so I really appreciate you taking the time to meet last night!

Thanks, Andy!

Jenny

______________________________________________________________________

If you would like to continue reading or thinking about the questions and issues raised in these emails, I would highly recommend the book Letters from a Skeptic by Greg Boyd. Boyd is the senior pastor at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota and this book is a collection of letters between he and his father (who was not a Christian at the time). In the relatively short time I have taken issues of faith and theology seriously, I have found very few people who are as knowledgeable and understandable as Greg Boyd. If reading a book – or even buying a book and putting it on your bookshelf with the intention of reading it someday – seems like more of a commitment than you’re ready to make right now, I gave a 20-minute sermon on the question “why keep believing?” at Journey a few weeks ago (responding to several of the questions and doubts that often trip us up in our faith). You can listen to it here. (Note: In no way am I trying to imply that my short message summarizes Boyd’s book or even compares to his level of communication, but it’s just an option for anyone looking to think more about all this — I suppose it’s also a shameless plug to get people to listen to my sermon, but I can live with that.)

Whether you listen to my sermon or not, there’s something I’ve been wishing I had said in that message, and even though it doesn’t necessarily fit here, I’m going to share it anyway…

I believe God loves the whole world (John 3:16 says, “for God so loved the world”). I also believe God is present and active throughout the world; even in remote villages that missionaries haven’t visited yet, or nations where people aren’t waving the flag of Jesus Christ. God loves the world and God is doing the best God can do–given the current situation of the world and who God has to work with (us)–to make positive changes in the world.

Subject: Re: I have a few questions #3

[The email below is part of a conversation between me and my friend Jenny. If you’re just joining in, it will probably make more sense if you go back to the beginning and read them in order (they are all linked together). Click HERE to read Jenny’s first email.]

From: Andy
To: Jenny
CC: Sarah
Subject: Re: I have a few questions
Date: Sun, Mar 9, 2008 at 11:44 PM

Sarah, sorry I forgot to include you on the last email. I’m glad Jenny copied you on her response so you could keep up with our back and forth thoughts…and to make sure you stay in the loop on the planning for our first session. Feel free to add in your own questions and responses if you’d like, or just read along.

Jenny, I’m glad you feel comfortable enough to ask your honest questions and if anything I’ve written has helped you make better sense of things, then I’m thankful. I think Letters From a Skeptic is a perfect book for you to be reading, along with Matthew’s gospel. Greg Boyd (Skeptic author) does a great job (with the help of his dad’s letters) of addressing some of the biggest God questions ever asked, and he responds to them using some of the most ordinary/everyday language possible (which is quite an accomplishment).

Both of you, let’s make plans to get a small group together and chat about some of these questions. Fridays are typically a good day for me because I don’t have class. I don’t remember meeting Becky, but Sarah says I’ve met her before, and she sounds like someone with great questions as well, so hopefully the four of us can have coffee or lunch together to see if we can figure out what God’s up to in the world and in our lives.

Sarah, I hope your night at work went better than you expected.

Jenny, I hope the kids behave well so you can continue your quest for spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Andy is going to bed because he’s a tired dude.

Peace out.

[Click HERE to read Jenny’s last email and my summary of this conversation.]