Fruity Fridays: Don’t Give Up

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

post by Eric Vorhies

After Adam and Eve ate the fruit, becoming aware of good and evil, God made a promise to bless the world through her seed. That blessing was Jesus. Now, let’s think about the events that took place between those two points in time. The newly freed Jews desired to be enslaved in Egypt rather than to depend on their miraculous God. From prophets to judges to kings, God’s chosen leader often rejected guidance and wisdom from their Creator. The world became so detestable at one point that God wiped it clean except for Noah and his family. And so on and so on.

If I was God, I would have been out by book two. So, in terms of what it means to be faithful, God is our model.

Faithfulness is an unswerving adherence to a person, thing, promise, etc. This is the characteristic that allows parents to have hope that their estranged child will come home. It gives permission to a devastated spouse to forgive the unfaithfulness (of any kind) of their partner. Faithfulness is at the heart of the story of the adult child who prays for 17 years that their mother would accept Christ as their Savior. Supernatural faithfulness isn’t a characteristic of the resilience of humanity. Rather, it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that is imparted on us by God.

Here’s the take away — You don’t have to give up or give in. Everyone has some hope or desire that has been worn down and beat up by disappointments as time drags along. And, let’s be honest, it’s hard. It’s exhausting. It even seems pointless to continue pressing on. But the endurance that faithfulness demands of us isn’t our own. We have access to a Father that understands. And it is His strength that carries us. We don’t have to give up because God is our source.

Or maybe you are on the other side of the equation. Maybe you are the one who keeps failing. The one who keeps rejecting God when the pressure of the world seems to be upon you. You also don’t need to give up or give in. God’s faithfulness is greater than our unfaithfulness. And though we may stumble and fall, if we keep trying again and again, as many times as it takes, we will be able to tap into that power that God is offering us and become faithful.

So, don’t be like me…don’t say, ‘I’m out,’ before the end of book two…because the story that God is writing is much bigger than we can imagine…and masterpieces take time to complete.

Fruity Fridays: External Bridge to Internal Goodness

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

post by Eric Vorhies

You ever hear the phrase, “Fake it till you make it”? I became aware of the power of this in high school. Everyone in class had to do a speech of some sort multiple times throughout the year. I was a high schooler. I didn’t know what I was doing. Like most, I was nervous to talk in front of people. I was consumed with what they must be thinking while I was speaking. I was consumed with fear.

But after a couple of speeches, I realized that those people listening were probably thinking similar things as I was when they were giving speeches. For instance, “Did I finish that Spanish homework?” or “I wonder what’s for lunch today?” That’s when I decided I could just fake my confidence in public speaking until I actually figured it out.

Let’s be clear, I haven’t figured it out, but I can talk to a large group of people with way more confidence then I should. The reason why I say this is because of how I perceive Kindness and Goodness relating to each other. To me, kindness is this external interaction that bridges people together. Goodness, in my opinion, is an internal feeling that motivates kindness.

I hope you see where this is going.

I don’t always have goodness inside of me toward people or situations. I can look at a situation and think, “Well, I could have done better.” Or if i am trying to figure out what other people are thinking about me…I internalize all the excuses of why things played out the way it did or why they shouldn’t be commenting on it. It is far too easy to train ourselves to react selfishly or out of fear. That’s why we think bad things about people or assume the worst. But it’s more empowering to learn to feel goodness instead.

Let’s be honest though, feelings are complex, and we can’t just change our feelings. I mean, we don’t have total control over them…They CAN BE conditioned though. So, this is where we fake it till we make it, and we do that through acts of kindness.

  • Do you want to have goodness in your heart toward someone? Stop talking badly about them.
  • Find yourself always judging people for the way they do things? Take time to tell them something you think they are doing really well (do not follow it up with what they could do better…no compliment sandwiches)
  • Have anger toward someone for what they said? Buy them a cup of coffee and have a conversation. 

We can’t just change the way we feel about something or someone, but we can choose to lead with kindness in those instances. And it is amazing how doing so will soften our hearts. Then, over time, the external bridge of kindness will lead to internal goodness. You won’t have it all figured out, but you will be able to judge a situation more honestly and with more understanding and forgiveness than most.

We are not good, but God leads us to goodness. Share some of it today.

Fruity Fridays: Running to Do Good

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

Of the nine fruits of the Spirit, I’d guess this one to be the one most wrestled. 

Doing good is different from being good. You can be good on the inside. But to show the fruit of goodness it has to be seen, you have to do. That isn’t always easy. It’s downright challenging in many cases, on a regular basis.

  • It’s hard to do good to someone who views your decision as wrong.
  • It’s mind bending to do good to someone who intentionally undermines you.
  • It’s gut wrenching to do good for someone who knowingly lies about you.

These are examples that are difficult because they reveal where your power originates. If your power to handle wrong, undermining, and lying lies only in you, you will be less likely to do good.
No, we have to rely on a better source of power than ourselves. That power comes from the model of goodness. That model and power is described in Acts 10:38.

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

Instead of looking at yourself to muster the power of goodness, we must look to the Holy Spirit. No matter how hard the situation, he has the power to do good through you. So how do we look to the Holy Spirit?

  1. Work through your anger, jealousy, selfishness, etc., before responding. (HINT: This may take more than five minutes.) Start doing good by not doing wrong by allowing destructive emotions to control you.
  2. Pray to the Holy Spirit. Ask Him what goodness will look like in your situation, for that person. Only move when you have peace and commitment to the action.
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice. You only get better at something by doing it. Start with a simple good thing that you know the Holy Spirit wants you to do. Example: Pray that God would bless your offender rather than praying God would convict them. (HINT: Conviction isn’t our job.) A staggering baby step like this will lead to steady walking which will lead to strong running.

Running isn’t easy. Certainly not to do goodness. Surrender to the Holy Spirit to help you run to do good.

Fruity Fridays: The Only Goodness in Us

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

post by Jeremy Nixon

Webster’s Dictionary defines goodness as the state or quality of being good; moral excellence, virtue; generosity, strength or the best part of anything. I particularly like “the best part of anything.” When talking about goodness you have to understand the opposite: evil. I think we all know what evil is, and it’s not the Descendants of Disney! However, my girls love that show, and as a “good” dad I oblige. Evil is everything derived from Satan, badness. The very thing that makes you happy (God) is good, and the thing that makes us imperfect…our flesh.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with my flesh and doing the right things at time because of my fleshly cravings. I know it’s hard to believe that I’m not a good person all the time…just ask John; he’ll tell you the truth. We all know that our struggle with sin is real (Romans 3:23). Paul writes in his letter to the Romans in 7:18-20 “for I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but the sin that dwells within me.”

Paul’s struggle with sin was real, so real that he cried out for rescue! Our lives, if we are honest, are really no different than Paul’s. I know as having been a pastor that everyone looks to leadership in the church and seems to think that they are perfect; that if we could just be like them and have it all together then we’d be happy and good. I’m here to tell you that we don’t have it all together, and we are all not GOOD on our own. We struggle with sin just like you, maybe different or maybe the same. Pastors extort goodness and we see all the good that they do and so we see them as goodness. As a member of the body of Christ, we are urged to walk by the Spirit and one of the fruits of the Spirit is goodness.

Since we belong to Christ we are to strive to be good, not for salvation but because of Christ’s love in laying down his life for us and saving us. Because of God’s great sacrifice our response is the fruits. As a Christian that doesn’t work in the church, I find it harder to display the fruits, but it’s more rewarding when we are able to. To God be the glory because we can NOT do it without him. He is the only GOOD in me. This week our fruit is goodness, and I encourage you to demonstrate goodness to others. It’s encouraging knowing that Paul and others in the Bible struggled with their sin and being good…but the Lord delivered them. Our hope is in Christ and through him goodness can be displayed through us to reach others.

I get it wrong more than I get it right…but if you love God and love others like you love Him, I can promise goodness will prevail and the Lord will be glorified.

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! 

Fruity Fridays: Inside Out Joy

by Jeremy Nixon, a nobody fireman trying to do it right, but mostly getting it wrong. 

With Thanksgiving being this week, we have a lot to be thankful for. We have a lot to be joyful about. The Lord is good, even through our heartaches and our losses. One thing remains: God is on the throne and He is in control. That gives me hope and joy. 

In John 15, Jesus says that the Lord is glorified in us bearing much fruit. He calls us to abide in Him and his love. The reason behind this is so his Joy can be in us and to make our Joy full. 
Have you seen the movie Inside Out? If you have not, then you should stop reading this and watch immediately! If you don’t know me then you’re probably better off. Lol. I am a firefighter, a husband and dad to 3 gorgeous little girls. That’s right. GIRLS. I watch Disney movies and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so much that I sing their tunes in my sleep. 

In the movie Inside Out, there are 5 distinct personifications of emotions that guide this little girl’s life: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust. Joy makes everything happy. At least she tries her hardest. Spoiler alert: In the end she finds out that they all 5 have to work together to make life memorable and full of unique experiences. 

When Paul writes about joy in Galations 5 he is talking about fruits of the Spirit, not emotions. I believe he is talking about a set of attributes that encompass every believer and, just like the movie, I believe they work together for God’s purpose! 

Joy as defined by Webster’s is a feeling of great happiness. But I like the second part even better: a SOURCE or cause of great happiness. PEOPLE!!! That source is JESUS! Can I get an Amen!?! That is JOY. He is JOY. 

If you don’t know Jesus you can’t experience pure joy. But with Jesus you CAN display JOY and you CAN give JOY to others. God is doing great things around this world, and it’s because believers are growing and getting dirty, shoveling out fresh fruit to the world. If you want to see it, then get out and get dirty. Love Jesus. Love others. Be joyful. Be happy. 

I just love what Paul writes in Romans 8:38-39…

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That should give you JOY. 

Love and Joy work hand in hand. You can’t just be one or the other. You’ve got to be all in, and you have to let God use you and your experiences to show others this marvelous love and joy that we have. 

How are you going to be joyful this week?

Introducing Fruity Fridays

One of the best passages of the Gospels is John 14-17. Some of Jesus’ most memorable statements and promises are included in these chapters. 

Some of those statements probably didn’t register with his audience right away, but certainly within a few decades they did. One thing he wanted them to know was that he would soon be leaving but that they wouldn’t be alone. He promised to send them the Helper, the Spirit of Truth; he promised that the Helper would come from the Father just like he did. That truth alone would take on greater significance after he would show them his power over death and the grave.

One of the main reasons the Helper was coming was to continue and expand the work Jesus had begun. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.” His followers were to be part of this work, bearing fruit in the physical absence of the Vine. That’s where the Helper comes in. And that’s why Paul writes about walking in the Spirit in Galatians 5. 

Without the Holy Spirit, we are on our own to fight off sinful temptations. Jesus said he would send the Holy Spirit to guide us. When we allow him to guide us, we can then live supernaturally because we have given him control of our minds and actions. That’s what Paul is describing in Galatians 5 – Christians who go beyond buying fire insurance. Fruit-producing Christians do things that make others stand in awe, not in awe of them but in the God they say they follow.

By choosing to follow the Holy Spirit rather than yourself, you can supernaturally…

  • …love that unneighborly neighbor
  • …exude joy during chemo treatments
  • …bring peace to the family Christmas table
  • …be longsuffering with your addicted child
  • …offer kindness to your overbearing boss
  • …model goodness to your child’s bully
  • …exhibit faithfulness as you move toward retirement
  • …gift gentleness to your aging parent
  • …control yourself selecting your items in Publix

Starting this Friday, you’ll see postings called Fruity Friday. I’ve invited some guest bloggers to join me in writing about all nine of the fruits of the Spirit Paul mentions in Galatians 5. We hope you are encouraged in your walk, in your fruit producing. Welcome to Fruity Fridays.