Pouring Out My Heart to you, God.

rain-and-fruitHas your bible ever fallen open to just the right words speaking just the right truth… at just the right moment? Thank you, Spirit. Thank you for your comfort and guidance.

When I started meditating on the Fruit of the Spirit a few weeks ago, I never realized the places it would take me. I confess, my earliest thoughts on the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 was that of spiritual warm fuzzies. However, when you take a look at the context of the verse and where it lies in Paul’s letter, you find that the Fruit of the Spirit are the other option in life. Spiritual Fruits are produced only when you nail the desires of your sinful nature to the cross, when you actively choose to walk away from your natural inclinations to sin. Paul paints the picture that one can indeed nail that old life of sin to the cross. We can choose to walk away and start producing something beautiful with our lives (See Gal. 5: 16-25).

But those fruits don’t always grow easily. It takes work and effort to maintain them. They are very action oriented, not passive. You can’t buy these fruits in the grocery store, you must till the soil and grow them yourself. Unlike the sinful desires, there is no law against working toward the love of others, joyfully facing the pain of life, fighting for peace in the middle of a storm, being patient while screaming inside, showing kindness when you don’t really want to, saying no and being good, remaining faithful, being the only gentle soul in the room, and exhibiting self control when you really want to punch someone in the jaw when they clearly deserve it. Don’t ever believe for one second that Christianity is the easy road. Sometimes people deserve a swift kick in the pants, and the advice from our Savior is to turn and walk. I am glad though, because most of the time it’s me who deserves the kick.

I realize it is not a popular teaching today to expect change out of people. We seem to be very uncomfortable requiring anything of ourselves and others. We are so grateful for grace, that we revel in it neglecting to mention our response to that grace. Grace is the gift. Obedience is the thank you.

I’m mourning the loss of transformation in our lives. I’m mourning that loss in our communities, our churches, our countries. We’ve made an idol out of keeping peace, avoiding hurt feelings, and never offending. We’ve made an idol out of our comforts. We’ve made an idol of the easy road. Well, friends, if you don’t want to be offended, I recommend never picking up a bible again. Because it is all there…our sin, our yuck, laid bare for all to see are our wrongs. And yet, He came. The most offensive part of all, you see, is that HE, the perfect, came and was stripped bare for our mess, our continuing mess. And lately I fear, our response to that sacrifice is to play in the manure and celebrate grace rather than to pick up, wash up, and change for Christ’s sake because of grace.

Tonight I opened my bible and Lamentations caught my eye. “Rise during the night and cry out. Pour our your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children for in every street they are faint with hunger.” Lamentations 2:19

I plead for our children. For they need to see our goodness. They need to see our kindness. They need to witness our transformation. They need to see that we, the church, are more than simply gay hating, missionary skimping, political ranting, in-fighting, crazies. They must see our fruits in order to see Jesus. God help us. Christ left us here to spread the gospel. What message is our life spreading? What message is my life spreading? Is it one of joy, peace, self-control?

Tomorrow, I’ll attempt to write on faithfulness. Though tonight I’m cynical and sad, and I wonder who I am faithful to, and if I’m faithful at all. I love you, God. Being Faithful to my loving Father is not difficult. I love you, my Savior. Being faithful to you is humbling. Your bride, though, Lord. She disappoints. Your bride is often lacking, and I’m part of the problem.

The Woman in the Mirror

mirrorA middle-aged woman stood in front of her mirror one evening before bed. She was saddened by her reflection and thought back to her younger days. Suddenly, in the mirror she could see her Lord standing behind her, yet when she turned around she could not see him. They began to talk. Looking at her reflection she sighed and said,

“I’m getting wrinkles, Lord.”
He replied, “You are growing in wisdom.

“I’m so tired.”
In me you will find rest.

“I’m not as pretty as I once was.”
To me, you are my perfect work of art. You are special and one of a kind.

“I’ve gained weight.”
I’ve always provided.”

“I lost my job today.”
I won’t stop providing.

“People confuse me, and I’ve lost a lot of friendships over the years.”
I’ll never leave you. My commitment is unending.

“I’m not sure my children even love me.”
I’m not sure my children love me either. I love you.

“I’m scared sometimes when I’m alone.”
You are never alone. I’m here.”

“You are good, Lord.”
Thanks, for saying so.

With that, the woman smiled at her reflection, took a deep breath, and went to bed.

-CB

Focused Fruit Prayer

fruitGracious Father, we want everyone to join you above;
Help us demonstrate to all your enduring love.
In good times and bad, whatever life employs,
Ignite us to light this dark world with constant joy.
Lord, give us the courage to be your mouthpiece.
Let us wage wars with love and aim only for peace.
Seeing each person as your precious creation,
We strive to respond to all with long-suffering and patience.
Sadly, we often suffer from selective blindness.
Guide us to those who desperately need our kindness.
The world examines us searching for contented fullness.
Let our lives and homes be solely adorned with goodness.
Even on days when our sins must be confessed,
Grant us perseverance to live a life of faithfulness.
The world be it broken and its people tremulous.
Allow us to reach them with truth and gentleness.
And finally, Lord, because we owe you our souls,
We willingly sacrifice ourselves and instead be self-controlled.

in Jesus name,

Amen.

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

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/darren-williams/3668135143

Monsters Up your Nose and Mine

teddy-teddy-bear-association-ill-42230.jpegA dark restless evil lurks
waiting to destroy.
It will obliterate and maim
every good girl and boy.
It attacks so gently
like pink flowers at spring.
Yet wields a weapon so great
twill make your ears ring.
You plead for mercy.
You put up a good fight.
You cling to your tissues,
and beg for your life.
But the tiny little monster
has you drowning in snot.
And you can’t breathe.
You can’t see,
you simply cannot.
Your nose runs red;
Your ears full of cotton.
Your lashes mat together.
All joy is forgotten.
Just when you’re sure
you’re done for and dead.
The vicious fiend comes back
to take your entire head.
“Pollen, you kill-joy,
you evil foul beast!
You can’t have my last breath,
I’m not done in the least!
I’ll fight you with Mucinex
and Flonase and such.
You can’t win this Rx battle
when I take THIS much!”
Finally, though it feels like
I’m drunk under water.
At last I can breathe
and see the effects of the slaughter.
“Pollen, you menace,
you nearly took me out!
But I triumphed in the end
with an antihistamine stout.”
Then slithering off
like a rascal, a coward.
Pollen turned back, waved,
and simply glowered.
“I’ll see you again,”
it said with a snicker.
“We’ve got a date
the season after next winter.”

My hope is built on nothing less…

rockThere are days that hymns run through my mind like a hamster on a wheel. Finally i get so weary with it, I look at the lyrics and get why. I don’t know where you put your hope, friend. But if you are a believer, then your hope should only come from your provider, your physician, your Savior. America cannot save you. America is not the Savior. Your church cannot save you. Your church is not the Savior. Your spouse, nor your parents, nor your pastor, nor your minister can save you. They are not the Savior. Our Savior is our only hope, Obi-wan.

In 1834, Edward Mote, carpenter turned Baptist minister, knew where his hope rested. Hear his words tonight and be blessed.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

in love,

Caryn

Will you follow

boy_woods1Who will you follow
asks your heart
as you look around
and question who is good.

Who will you follow
asks your mind
as you read news page after news page
of tragedy and storm.

Who will you follow
asks your children
as they look to you
for answers and direction and guidance.

Who will you follow
asks your neighbor
as they watch your behavior
and read post after political post.

Who will you follow
asks your church
as they witness to the world
of a man who speaks of truth.

Who will you follow
asks your Savior
as he witnesses His sacrifice
mean little to the world.

Follow truth, cries your heart.
Follow trust, cries your mind.
Follow courage, cries your children.
Follow love, cries your neighbor.
Follow faith, cries your church.
Follow me, cries your Savior.

Him.

forestBefore time began there was me.
The creation was witnessed by me.
The invention of you is perfect to me,
So in all you do, acknowledge me.
For all your blessings, thank me.
If you long for peace, seek me.
Whoever seeks will find me.
I am the way. Believe me.
Let go of you and cling to me.
Humble yourself. Glorify me.
Don’t fear those that kill. They already killed me.
I died so you can forever join me.
Fear what kills your soul. Trust me.
Keep my commandments. Commit to me.
When you love others, I know you love me.
And when you come together, you are with me.
Bow Down, look up. Worship me.
When darkness surrounds, look toward the light. That’s me.
I am the good shepherd follow me.
Silence your cell, your mind, and others. Listen to me.
You are loved by me.
You are forgiven because of me.
You are made perfect through me.
When you walk along, remember me.
When you see creation, remember me.
When you welcome new life, remember me.
When you say your last good-bye, remember me.
When you feel joy, remember me.
When you feel alone, remember me.
When all seems lost, remember me.
And when you take this bread and drink this cup, remember me.
Remember me.
And when all you are is forgotten, you’ll see me.

Don’t Make Me

stubborn-e1456623335119

Lord, I love you, but don’t make me say so too loudly.
Lord, I love to sing praises to you, but don’t make me sing that old one.
Lord, I love your word, but don’t make me go to bible class and learn it.
Lord, I love all your children, but don’t make talk to that one.
Lord, I want to live for you, but don’t make me uncomfortable.
Lord, I want to be a Christian, but don’t make me look different than my peers.
Lord, I want you to provide for me, but don’t make me look at that homeless man.
Lord, I want everyone to go to heaven, but don’t make me tell anyone about you.
Lord, I want to pray to you, but don’t make me do it in public or when I’m busy.
Lord, I want to be with you, but don’t make me give up my life.
Lord, I want to be a part of your church, but don’t make me change my schedule.
Lord, I want you to forgive me, but don’t make me forgive them.
Lord, I believe you are more powerful than anything, but don’t make me obey.
Lord, I love you, but don’t make me love you too much.

Growing, Going, Gone.

clean_baby_handTiny pink bundle.
Tiny pink hands.
Tiny pink heart.
Stealing mine, stealing mine.

Tiny pink dresses.
Tiny two pigtails.
Tiny silly giggles.
Bringing mine, bringing mine.

Growing fast legs.
Growing deep thoughts.
Growing fated distance.
Vanishing time, vanishing time.

Long soft hair.
Longer faithful absence.
Longest spent nights.
Slowest time, slowest time.

Packing pink bags.
Packing big dreams.
Packing sweet memories.
Taking mine, Taking mine.

Tiny pink bundle.
Growing, going, gone.
Packing my heart.
Always mine, always mine.

-cb