Fruity Fridays: Please Be Patient

(A series about the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5)

by Jeremy Nixon

One day this past week I asked my 4 y/o daughter to get buckled up in my pickup truck so we could leave. In my head, that looks like her crawling in the truck and getting in her seat and buckling up. But what generally happens is as follows: I usually open the door and she hops in (lost in space) and gets in her seat, gets out of her seat, finds a toy she left in there and then plays with her sister and then crawls up front to pretend drive at which point I walk outside to see her NOT buckled up. I lose my #&#^$ then, well…she buckles up and all is well in the world, at least mine. She’s a lot like me, so I get her and I love her to death! I never knew a house full of girls could try my patience so much.

Patience is defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. Clearly it’s something that I would say I don’t possess or at least don’t possess on a consistent basis.  

I asked a fellow fireman what he thought about patience and his answer intrigued me. I said, “What do think about patience, you know like in the Bible, the fruits of the spirit?” His reply: “It’s something that you need for all the other fruits.” I thought superfruit!! Patience is huge. With my house full of beautiful, loving girls, patience is something that is tested on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Love, joy, peace…yeah, got it, but patience; my, oh my, is it a hard one. Paul writes that if we live by the Spirit, then we should also walk by the spirit.   

What does patience look like in our lives? In my line of work patience is something that you have to deal with on many emergency calls throughout the day. Most of the time people seriously need help. They are calling you at their weakest moment and truly need help, but then there are the times when someone is calling just to talk or see someone. Patience is tested at 3am when we get called out to something that doesn’t actually require us or even a false call. Yet we still go. It’s what we are paid to do…for most it’s what we are called to do.   

Patience isn’t something that only we experience. Jesus had to show patience in his life on earth. The 12 disciples…need I say more? That ragtag bunch tested his patience on a daily basis, and it was His opportunity to model how to be patient to us. If God calls us to be like him and to show his love, then we have to be patient. God is love. Love is patient. I am so thankful that the Lord is patient with me (I’m one of the ragtags). 

I’ve talked about picking fruit and how dirty it is. Patience is sure not to disappoint because it is something that I believe is a very hard task. God has equipped us to be patient and to show patience. Just like my buddy said, it takes patience to get the rest of the fruits. I truly believe that the fruits all go hand in hand.  

Patience is a characteristic that God can use to reach your friends, neighbors and the world. Go forth…be fruity…be patient. I’m going to get back in the living room with the girls and work on my patience…it’s almost bedtime! 

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2 Love Questions

Unintentionally, I’ve read quite a bit on the subject of love in the last few weeks-more specifically, the impacts of love versus fear on one’s life-the good, the bad, the ugly. Guess which one produces the good?

Most of this reading was in Timothy Jenning’s book entitled The God-Shaped Brain. Jennings presents convincing psychological, neurological and biblical evidence of the rewards of receiving and giving the love of God. Then I read the last chapter entitled “Love is All We Need” in a coaching book, an assignment for a class. The coauthors trump the value of love for a healthy, well-lived, fruitful life.

I’ve been focusing on the discipline of journaling since the beginning of the year. As a response to these readings, I’ve let this subject of love be my jumping off spot this week. And I’ve unearthed a powerful exercise. It’s simple but thought provoking. If followed daily, it could change how each day is reviewed and how the next day is lived. The exercise includes answering the following two questions at the end of the day:

  • How did God show me his love today?

This could be in an answered prayer, through someone else’s actions, through my observation of nature, or through scripture reading and meditation.

  • How did I show his love today?

This is the more challenging question. If you are aware of the coming question, it should put you in the mindset that you want to have something to report. It doesn’t reflect well on receiving God’s love by not showing his love. This question has the potential of changing a day’s course for you and therefore for others.

Yesterday, a friend noted the good mentioned in a prayer that made them aware of God’s activity. Your focus on him, his love, his goodness will make a difference. Give these two love questions some thought and see how aware you can become of his love.

Running Tuesdays: Convenience vs Agenda Running

For the last two weeks, Lorraine and Michael shared their thoughts on running alone and running in groups. My turn.

I mostly, which means +90% of the time, run alone. And the answer is really quite simple. CONVENIENCE.

Running when, where, how far, and at what pace I want is really more important to me than anything else. Being able to decide that either on the spot or the night before is more difficult when others are involved. I’ve tried to run routinely with others, and it has mostly ended up being more of a hassle or frustration-counterintuitive to the rewards of running.

Even though I thrive on the convenience of running alone, there is a reason I engage in group running. That reason is when I need to focus on a set AGENDA for which the group is already committed or can help me achieve. That agenda could be anything from building up distance, running a particular tempo, or strength work on hills or a bridge. That agenda overrides any desire for convenience. For me, convenience gets sacrificed to the drive to fulfill the agenda.

You may have heard of the struggle some people have between playing at their work or working at their play. You can guess which way I lean. Some runners are really good at “playing” while they run. I generally have to work to play at my play. By work I mean I mentally have to tell myself to chill, relax, and don’t think too much when I run with a group. One simple way I’ve done that is to not run with any type of technology. If I don’t know my tempo, it keeps me from adjusting it. Ironically, I sometimes choose to run with others to force myself to pull back. I’m one of those odd birds that self-motivates. Those birds need others to help them chill. You could say that my agenda sometimes needs to be not to have one.

If you are toying with running against your normal routine of running alone or with others, I suggest giving yourself a week or two to experiment. Do at least one run a week outside of your normal routine. You’ll most likely learn something about yourself that will move you forward. Think about what feeds you but also what pushes you. Then go about making it work. Find the balance. Enjoy the road.

Refuge

But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!””‭‭ Ruth‬ ‭2:11-12‬ ‭ESV‬

By Ruth’s example we see where the best place of refuge is.

  • It’s not always with family.
  • It’s not always with comfort.
  • It’s not always with the expected.
  • It’s not always with what’s familiar.
  • It may involve sacrifice.
  • It may involve leaving it all behind.
  • It may involve ignoring the norm.

Under the wings of the God of Ruth we see where the best place of refuge is.

Running Tuesdays: Preferring Running Alone

by Michael Wilder

Running alone versus running with others can quickly turn into a discussion of being an introvert or extrovert. Introverts keep to themselves, but extroverts seek out others. Introverts need to be alone to “recharge” their batteries while extroverts need other people to “recharge” their batteries. Introverts are quieter compared to extroverts who are louder. I can keep going down a list of the differences between the two, but I believe running alone versus running with others is not an introvert or extrovert thing. I personally know both groups of people who run alone or with others. What it boils down to is personal preference.

Yes, I am an introvert, and yes I do prefer running alone. Running alone allows my mind to focus on the past, present, and the future. Running alone is a form of worship for me. I listen to worship music and admire His creation. Running alone gives me the opportunity to learn. I love to listen to pod cast and audio books while I run. Listening to those types of media helps me be a better person. Running alone does “recharge” my batteries especially if I am stressed or worried about something. Running is a release from everyday life. I struggle getting up early during the week to run, but after the back and forth between my mind of getting up or not, I always feel ready for the day after a run. I am not saying I can’t do this “stuff” alone, but it would be kind of awkward/rude for me to be listening to an audio book while my friend is talking to me.

Like I said earlier I prefer to run alone, but I enjoy running with people too. A majority of my runs are alone. This is not on purpose; rather it is because of when I do my runs. Running at 6am on a weekday 3 times a week usually does work with my running friends. Plus, if I do run with someone it would require a drive on my part or theirs. My preference is to get up at the time I want to go for a run, walk out my door, and start. When it comes to running with someone else, you have to organize your schedules. Organizing schedules is extremely hard to do in this busy world of ours. This is why I like to have scheduled group runs. Once a month I try to get with someone else to run with. We plan it out a couple of weeks ahead of time.

When I do run in a group setting it is enjoyable. For the most part of a run, no matter what distance, I chat it up with the people I am running with. I don’t run with a group to improve my time, which does come as an added bonus, but as a way to connect with my running friends. My wife goes to Starbucks and spends several hours with friends talking and connecting. I go for a run with my friends instead of going to Starbucks. For me, there is no greater joy than talking with a good friend while you run. Life’s struggles, issues, or problems seem to be clearer while you run and talk it out. Maybe it’s the physical activity or the cool morning air. However, running in a group for the purpose of talking and connecting is beneficial.

Bottom line here is that this introvert likes to be alone while running but will spread his extroverted wings and lace up with a group. As long as the group is out for a fun run, then I am all for it!

Fruity Fridays: Level-Headed Transitioning

(A series about the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5)

entry by Eric Vorhies 
I spent the last month thinking about how to define patience. Here’s what I came up with: The ability to transition from expectation to reality while remaining level-headed. 

  • Expectation: Drive home from work in a timely manner…and on a good day, hit only green lights

Reality: Stuck in traffic because there is an accident on the other side of the interstate that people are slowing down to see

  • Expectation: Go to bed at a decent hour

Reality: Three kids

  • Expectation: Living a long and healthy life

Reality: Getting diagnosed with cancer

  • Expectation: To be trusted by people in your workplace

Reality: The boss micromanages your every move in the most obnoxious way possible

Last one, 

  • Expectation: The person closest to you should understand you the best

Reality: The closer someone is to you the more monumental small misunderstandings will be

Patience isn’t always about just waiting for external forces to align properly. Most of the time it is about internally disassembling our expectations so that we can pick up the pieces and deal with reality. 
The more we lean on God, the more we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, the quicker we can go through this process -whether it is a seemingly small thing such as trying to understand what your two-year-old is saying through his tears of frustration, or a rather large thing such as waiting to hear back about medical test results which will be delivered at the rapid pace of six weeks.

But I don’t need to go on about moments in life that may or may not cause some of you to become impatient. I want to share the best way that I know how to deal with potential impatience, or even active impatience.

“In the meantime” – this is the process of doing something different than what you had specifically planned to do. For instance, stuck in traffic? You planned on cruising right home, but you can’t. So, in the meantime, listen to some great podcasts…and learn a ton of stuff that you wouldn’t have made time for otherwise. Can’t land that dream job? In the meantime, land any job in the same field. Waiting with a four-year-old to get your tires aligned? In the meantime, get off your phone and play with him rather than expect him to stay entertained (that one was for me).

The thing that is really happening in these situations is that we are shifting our goals in the gap between our expectations and our reality. Your goal isn’t to get home as quickly as possible. Netflix isn’t going anywhere. Just get home safely and when you can, and if possible enjoy the ride. Dream job – maybe your goal should be to find a job that will lead you to the job that will lead you to the job that you really want. And while at Tires Plus, my goal shouldn’t be to kill time as much as it should be how to make the most of my time. 

One last story to drive this point home. Many couples have the goal to get pregnant and have kids. Some couples struggle to achieve this. I have some friends that had that exact problem. But at some point in the process, they took advantage of the “in the meantime” moments. They were able to use their struggle as part of their testimony, to grow more intimate with God, to lead other people through the same problem. Then one day, in glorious fashion, they became parents. But in order to do this, they had to shift their goal…or maybe, they figured out what their goal really was. That glorious fashion wasn’t due to a pregnancy ending in a delivery room experience. It was before a judge in a small courtroom in a small town. In the meantime, they changed their approach. They still became the best parents ever, but it just wasn’t how most couples do it. Because of their dependence on and trust in God, they were able to transition from expectation to reality. 

The greatest example of this that I see in the Bible is written in Romans 5.8, “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

  • Expectation: To live in relationship with God.

Reality: We couldn’t do it. 

  • Expectation: Sinners pay for their sins.

Reality: God’s patience paved the way for the sacrifice of Christ.

The Why of Lean

The story of Gideon is rich. Judges 7 is one example of this richness.

In this scene Gideon is instructed to get lean by reducing the size of his army from 32,000 to 300. Sounds counterproductive. Here’s the “why” from verse 2:

“The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’” ‭‭Judges‬ ‭7:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God directed Gideon to purposefully get lean. Why? So the nation wouldn’t boast in their power but in his, wouldn’t rely on their own hand for salvation but on his. The army of Israel was about to learn a lesson in who should receive the honor for their salvation.

For a life application, consider these “whys” for any leaning God has allowed in your life:

  • Is this possibly why your bank account has been depleted?
  • Is this possibly why your company has lost accounts?
  • Is this possibly why your church has gone through a financial or membership purge?

Whose hand are you looking to for salvation? Ask God about the why of your lean.

Running Tuesdays: Solo Running vs. Group Running

by Lorraine Kennimouth Williams

Should I go it alone or bring in the troops? This is a question asked by many runners when lacing up their running shoes in anticipation of their daily morning run – translation …. Should I run solo or run with the group?

This is a question I answered firmly for myself many years ago since running with the group is hands down my preferred method; for me it is a non-zero sum game or a win-win all of the time! Why is running in a group more attractive to me than “going it alone”? For many reasons, most of which I believe are psychological barriers … 

  • The group gives me new-found respect for “accountability” by getting me out of bed in the morning.
  • The group helps heighten my intestinal fortitude. I am less likely to exaggerate an ache or a pain and therefore less likely to stop. 
  • I become competitive when in a group; I don’t push myself anywhere near as much as I do when running with the group.   
  • The group speeds me up – I tend to run faster when running with the group. A baseline is set, and I feel the need to keep up with [at least] the slowest runner even if their pace is faster than my average. 
  • With the group, I find myself running in unfavorable elements and have done so on many occasion. If I am alone and the elements are unseemly, I will “bag it in” and go home.

But, more importantly that any of the above points, the comradery and compassion displayed by a group is unparalleled! Running buds look out for you; they are there for you; failing is not an option when they are around. They are that voice of affirmation that forever tells you how awesome you are and how you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to. They are the guys who constantly remind you day after day that “It always seems impossible until it’s done”! They are the savior, the rock, the wings, the inspirational vehicle – wait a minute, something of great importance I may have forgot to mention …… I’m a “screaming extrovert”!!

Some people adore running alone – they do it for the very reason of taking a break from the chaos – they have been around people and telephones and emails and demanding children/spouses all day, and the last thing they want is to run with a bunch of chatty people! They look so forward to claiming that quiet space, the tranquility that a solo run offers …. They wouldn’t dream of spoiling it with a group. So, as we can see, it depends on what you are looking for and what works for you.  

Some points to adhere to whether you are a solo runner or a groupie –

  • Make your runs work for you. 
  • Many of us want to become faster runners, so have a goal and always keep it in mind. 
  • If you run with a group or a partner, they may not be progressing at the same rate as you. Make sure not to hold back because of this. Run your own race!

Depending on the mindset, some believe you can accelerate your progress by running alone. This is based on you being able to concentrate on breathing, stride and overall positioning and is probably very true for some. I, on the other hand, know for me and many like me the only way to become faster is to run with faster peeps. Some of us find it “easier” to accept the level of discomfort when in a group setting than when alone; we don’t have the grit to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone when alone.

So, next time you lace up, decide whether you’re going to “go it alone” or “rally the troops.”

5 Suggestions to Avoid being Duped

Joshua 9 tells a story of deception.  And it is summed up by verse 14, “So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord.”

Here are a few strategies and guidelines to avoid being duped by deceivers:

  1. Keep in mind that what you see has a story that does or doesn’t match what you hear.
  2. Responding in haste increases your chances of being deceived.
  3. Never make a decision without counsel, either from preset guidelines or from momentary inquiries.
  4. Listen to the voice of God. Ask him before responding, even when the request appears to be pure. Let him give you assurance.
  5. Take the necessary time you feel led to take to respond. Human emergencies rarely seem urgent to God.