Love, the house of the fruit of the Spirit

Drink this in . . .

Love is not a separate entity from the fruits of the Spirit, it is what houses them as they dwell within it and spring forth from it. It is our very strength. It is blood that pumps through a heart of faith. It is the tangible evidence of a life born in Christ Jesus.

Read the whole thing on Broken Messenger; it’s excellent.

[A humble spin of the rim to the hub of the Thinklings wheel: Jared, from over at his quiet space]

The God who stoops

You have given me the shield of your salvation,

and your gentleness made me great.

2 Samuel 22:36 (ESV)

The writer of this song in 2 Samuel 22 is David. David was a warrior, a great king and leader of men. I love the Old Testament passages that exult in the warrior-strength of our God and tell of how He rushes to defend His people; that tell of how He is mighty, awesome, and fearful.

But I love the focus in this passage on God’s gentleness. Notice the result of God’s gentleness – it made David great.

Or, as the NIV renders the idea of God’s gentleness, “You stoop down”. And, of course, our God does stoop down to lift us up. As any good parent knows, “stooping” is a large part of raising small children. With little ones around, a great part of your day can be taken up in stooping – stooping down to look at the world from their level, stooping down to listen to the things that are important to them. We imbue our little ones with strength and power when we, in gentleness, stoop down and look them in the eye, embrace them, smile and tell them how loved they are, and encourage them that, yes, they can.

There is so much power in gentleness. Our Lord came to the world in gentleness, quietly and unobtrusively, and the heavenly host shouted as the shepherds hit the dirt, prostrate and trembling. And He exhibited the power of His gentleness throughout His life, touching and healing the sick, restoring the lame, welcoming the children. He was, by His own prophetic pronouncement, “gentle and lowly”.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,

for I am gentle and lowly in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls.

– Matthew 11:29

He was also, of course, the King, zealous for His Father’s name; a truth-teller, fearless in the face of opposition. Our Lord Jesus: joyous and weeping, triumphant and weary, He was the Man of all men. In Him was unfathomable power veiled in human flesh; a burning, holy passion with a gentle touch for a world desperate for healing.

Jesus is the One who stooped down for us, and in doing so, gave us the privilege of being called the children of God. I praise and thank the God who stoops!


I apologize for the silence on the blog this week. I’ve been busy (and I’m sure so have you). Expect light blogging over the weekend – and, of course, in this quiet space that usually means “no blogging”. Heh.

A few quick notes:

Firstly, Bloo v. 0.15 is coming! It will contain a few nice new features. I expect to have some time to work on it over the next few days. In the last few weeks the time I’ve had to sling code for Bloo has been measured in mere minutes. Hopefully that will change.

Secondly, and – apropos of the silence on the blog lately – check out this post on Silence from Jared’s Shizuka Blog:

How many times have you come across someone excusing their own insensitivity or insulting manner by claiming they are just “telling it like it is.” They’re just being “real” or “honest.”

They’re right — they are telling you what they’re like, what their real self is, the “honest” condition of their heart.

Most times, someone’s unhinged tirade (or even passive-aggressive criticism) of you actually says more about them than it does you.

Sometimes you are (by which I mean “I am”) in the place of the critical someone.

Sometimes it’s just best to be silent. When we actively choose silence over unnecessary or unnecessarily critical speech, we reflect a real self that is actually worth boasting about.

And, finally, drink this in . . .

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,

for my hope is from him.

He only is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

On God rests my salvation and my glory;

my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;

pour out your heart before him;

God is a refuge for us.


– Psalm 62:5-8 (ESV)

Have a great weekend everyone!

“Wielding the Word, Living the Word”

This morning Jared asked a question that I asked myself earlier today. His is a very timely post, and I take it as a sign that the conviction I felt earlier this morning is real. An excerpt is below:

If His Word is written on my heart, why isn’t it flowing in my blood?

It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” — Matthew 4.4 (NRSV)

I have been reading selections from the Apostolic Fathers lately, and one thing that strikes me most about them is just how drenched in Scripture they are. The difference between these documents and more contemporary writings of edification (the so-called “Christian Living” genre) is clear and impressive. These early documents live and breathe God’s written Word.

Take 1 Clement, for example, which is an epistle from the Roman church to the Corinthians, written at the end of the first century and attributed to Clement of Rome. The point of the letter appears to be a correction and a soft rebuke, addressing the fact that young members of the Corinthian church have affected some sort of rebellion, even ousting older (and wiser) members of the church. The primary aim of the letter is restoration.

And the whole thing is riddled with references — some explicit quotes, some incorporated paraphrases — to Scripture passages, both from the Hebrew Scriptures and from the early New Testament canonical tradition. (By the way, the practically equal treatment artifacts like 1 Clement give to both Old Testament documents and to assorted snippets from the Pauline epistles, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and even Gospel sayings is a good indicator of the historic attestation of our New Testament canon.)

Read his entire post; it is fantastic.

And Lord, may the hunger that You have put in me for Your word grow and grow. And may the gift of faith that you have given me, mixed with Your word, produce fruit that is pleasing to You.

If . . .

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels,

but have not love,

I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

And if I have prophetic powers,

and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,

and if I have all faith,

so as to remove mountains,

but have not love,

I am nothing.

If I give away all I have,

and if I deliver up my body to be burned,

but have not love,

I gain nothing.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (ESV)

"Have this mind among yourselves . . ."

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Philippians 2:5-7 (ESV)

In my opinion, Paul completely nails it in this passage in the second chapter of Philippians.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. How often am I willing to take on the form of a servant? But our Lord did not just take on the form of a servant, He also “emptied Himself”.

When you consider that in Him “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” . . . I’m reminded of the woman who broke the jar of expensive perfume and annointed Jesus with it. She was merely recapitulating, in a “small and near” way, the act of worship that was Jesus’ life lived unto us and to His Father; the emptying of Himself, culminating in the emptying of the unfathomably priceless perfume of His blood to the salvation of us all.

And we’re called to that same mindset. We’re called to empty ourselves. It is hard to do. Very hard. I like the comfort of being full of myself and I don’t like to lose “me”. And yet Jesus emptied Himself, and, though from eternity He was uncreated God, allowed Himself to be “made”. Made in the likeness of men.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

-Philippians 2:8 (ESV)

Obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross! What terrible images, smells, and sounds the word “cross” would conjure in the mind of a first century inhabitant of the Roman empire! Yet Paul is speaking of One who willingly, obediently went there.

“Have this mind among yourselves . . .”

We are exhorted to be of the same mind as Christ, to have His attitude. We have a word for those who willingly give their lives for others, who throw themselves on top of the grenade, who run into the burning building, who take the bullet. We call them “heroes”. Christ is my Hero, my Rescuer. We’re called to be heroes too.

Have this mind among yourselves. It begins in “small and near” ways, in the daily choices of blessed humility over self-exaltation, in the million services that we can provide to those around us. It’s so easy to overlook these opportunities.

It begins there, but a life of obedient service to God and man will train us in the self-forgetfulness that is true humility, and will prepare us for our opportunity for greater love, for deeper and perhaps ultimate sacrifice, for becoming the work of art that God has created us to be. For His glory. That, like the apostles, we will leave the arguments behind about which of us is the greatest, and will pour ourselves out for the One who is, undisputably, the Greatest.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

– Philippians 2:9-11 (ESV)

Wisdom from a quiet place

In the midst of my own current speechlessness, and the remnants of the five to ten posts I have started recently and haven’t finished, I remain dependent on others for content.

Thank goodness for people like Jared. His new solo blog, a “quiet place” called Shizuka Blog, contains healthy, flowering plants of wisdom such as this one:

The fruit of the Spirit is not automatic. I can’t just think about God and superficially read my Bible every day and “get fruit.”

I have to root my spirit in His, in the nurturing soil of the Word incarnate and the Word written. I have to put myself in locations conducive to spiritual nourishment — family, church community, a quiet corner in which to really pray and study.

In his novel The Fourth Treasure, Todd Shimoda describes the efforts of Japanese calligraphers to perfect their artistry. One sensei instructs his students to perform ten thousand strokes a day for ten thousand days. And then the student might be ready.

And the strokes are not the Japanese characters themselves, but the individual strokes — the “radicals” — that together make a character. That’s ten thousand times a day, for ten thousand days, of practicing the parts of a letter. Can you imagine having to practice drawing the three separate parts of an A for that long before you can attempt to draw the actual letter?

But there is a beauty and a spirit and an emotional substance to expertly rendered Japanese kanji not found in the cold geometry of our twenty-six-letter alphabet.

There is a difference between trying and training.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. — Galatians 6.9

The work of sanctification is God’s. But there is work to be done on my part, as well. The works of faithfulness.

Disciplines to undertake. Hard work. Consistency. Perseverance.

A long obedience in the same direction.

A quote worth thinking about

The ever excellent Mr. Standfast today posted some great quotes from John Owen, the 17th century Puritan divine. Nestled in this pile of treasures was this jewel:

I will not judge a person to be spiritually dead whom I have judged formerly to have had spiritual life, though I see him at present in a swoon as to all evidences of the spiritual life. And the reason why I will not judge him so is this — because if you judge a person dead, you neglect him, you leave him; but if you judge him in a swoon, though never so dangerous, you use all means for the retrieving of his life.


Jen, speaking the “M” word

Our blog-friend Jen, who was a confirmed and happy single when she first appeared on the blogosphere, recently began seeing “Beau”.

Today Jen used the “M” word in a post!

OK, folks. Here’s the deal:

1. Beau and I are in love. *and there was much rejoicing*

2. We are pretty certain that we will be getting married. By pretty certain, it’s at about 100%. However…

3. There are a lot of logistics that need working out.

We’re trusting God to help us figure out what needs doing to make it all work out. Who will look for a new job, where should we live, etc. We don’t want to get ahead of God’s timing – He has a plan, we just need to get clued in on what that is and we’re not sure about that yet.

I was hoping to hold off on posting this until I had met his family, which is scheduled for next week when his parents come back from their vacation in Ireland. The plan is for my parents and I to meet his parents, sister and family, and brother and family for dinner. (Yes, I’m taking my parents along for moral support and as deflection, too. I figure they should go ahead and meet the future in-laws while they’re on the east coast. Dad joked that otherwise they may not meet until the wedding. Ha ha.)

So know this:

A. I have not been proposed to officially yet.

B. As such, there is no date set for a wedding.

C. Those who need to know the details will get the details when we know them.


Jen is a Jen-uinely good person (ha ha ha . . . heh. Pun intended . . . I kill me) – but I digress. Seriously, Jen is a wonderful person with a blog well worth reading. Pray for her and Beau as they continue to take steps toward the second most important decision a person can make in this life.

Congratulations Jen!

Only our Creator can re-create us

One reason for my recent posting silence is that words are not coming easy these days. There are issues that I am wrestling with, having to do with the tension between our role and God’s role in salvation and sanctification. I will hopefully be posting on these topics (and other related mullings) over the next few days and weeks.

Peter over at Stronger Church has these thoughts on the message that he gave his church yesterday:

One of the things that I want our people to grasp is that they are not Christians because they prayed a prayer, went forward at an evangelistic meeting, asked Jesus into their hearts, etc. They are Christians because they believed (had faith, trusted – those are biblical responses) in the Gospel of Christ’s death on their behalf, and as a result God declared that they were right with Him.

Maybe it is judgmental to say this, but we evangelicals are not very deep in our understanding of the Gospel. I pointed out that we need to know what salvation is all about for several reasons, one of them being to understand where our security lies. I’ve heard too many people question their relationship with God on the basis of either not knowing if they “really believed,” were “really sincere,” or “really understood” when they prayed a prayer, went forward in an evangelistic meeting, etc. How liberating to realize that our standing before God is not based on what we did, but on God’s unchanging declaration that we are righteous in His sight on the basis of the sinless life and substitutionary death of Christ! [Emphasis mine]

I’ve spent more time than I should have as a Christian stuck in this trap, because I didn’t understand some basic facts. Salvation is not based upon performing a ritual correctly. Neither is it based on my feelings, or what others do or think about me.

Salvation is all about Jesus. It’s about what He has done, not what I have done. And it’s certainly not about what others do.

These are not breakthrough theological insights. They appear quite simple on the page, yet it is so easy to miss them! We’re not called to turn over a new leaf. We’re called to become a new leaf.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

– 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

Ever tried to become something entirely new? Impossible! We humans are fragile bundles of insecurities, misconceptions, misperceptions, and broken parts. But when God places us in Christ, we are immediately a new creation. Only our Creator can re-create us! I’m beginning to wonder if there’s really anything we can “do” about this. The growing knowledge of my total dependence on Him for even the basics, like faith for instance, is freeing.

I feel the scriptural tension and balance between God’s sovereignty and His expectations for our behavior and works. For Scripture is surely not silent regarding what we are to do when we are a new creation. A good example of the tension I speak of is the passage below:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

– Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)

Notice that the category for this post is “meditation”, not “theological treatise”. I am working out the tension described in that deliciously contrasting – almost coy! – passage above with fear and trembling, ready to be corrected.

Of this I am sure, though. If God has a will and the desire to work out His good pleasure through me, I know He will do it. Who could possibly stand in His way? Certainly not this cloud of atoms – this vapor – that I am.

I am His workmanship. I believe this from Scripture, and the thought that my Lord would desire to make me into something useful for Him is reason enough to bow down in awe and thankfulness and, like the elders in the Revelation, cast what crowns I have at His wounded feet.