Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Fruit : Self Control


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

“I want it all, and I want it now.” 
(I want it all –Queen)

What time do you get up in the morning?  I get up about five minutes before I have to.  Maybe five minutes after if the weather is bad.
Some people get up an hour early so they can go running, or get to the gym before work.  That takes dedication.
Yet most of us would have difficulty getting up half an hour earlier to spend 30 minutes more in prayer. 

Why?  Priorities I guess.  For some of us our bodily health is more important than our spiritual health.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Lack of Self Control leads to excesses in areas that would otherwise be benign: Anger, Drinking, Ambition, Lust, Spending.

Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything-1 Corinthians 6:12

We need control to show love when we want to show hate.
We need control to be patient when we are not.
We need control to be kind when we are not feeling like it.

Self Control, like running or working out at the gym, takes practice.
We need to practise it every day to make it “muscle memory.”

  • By choosing to read the Word, and follow it.
  • By putting off what is wrong (run from temptation)
  • By putting on what is right (choose to walk in the Spirit)
  • By asking for help, all the time (Pray for strength and wisdom)

How do you build your Self Control? What area do you find it hardest to be controlled?

This has been the last Fruit of the Spirit message.  Feel free to browse over the past ones, and leave a comment.  If you answer on your own blog, please leave a link below.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Fruit : Gentleness


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

We continue our series by examining Gentleness.

The word that we read as “gentleness” is also rendered as “meekness” on occasion.  I think this is a bit of a problem, because it sometimes makes us think of weakness.

Meekness/Gentleness however is characterised by power, under perfect control.

Think for a minute about a wild and dangerous horse, which is tamed.  It is still powerful, but now it has learned to use its power under control and without hurting anyone.  (The technical term for taming a horse is actually “gentling” I believe.)

Gentleness as a Fruit of the Spirit means that we are controlled by God’s Spirit, and lead in the way of love and kindness.  It does not mean we need to be weak, or quiet.  It means we need to be controlled, and not hurt others. 

And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” – 2 Timothy 2:24-26

In this verse, we see that the follower does not ignore or accept the sin, but he does not lash out or condemn the sinner either.  He is gentle in his instruction, and loving in bringing the opponent back to God.

315322_325321097559404_114950662_nJesus was gentle.  He was loving to the woman caught in adultery, and the woman at the well.  In both cases he told them what they needed to do, and taught them the error of their ways.  However he did not punish them or lose his temper with them.  He was controlled.

He was also controlled when he turned over the tables in the temple, and when he spoke very harshly against the Pharisees, and condemned them for their hypocrisy.  He was controlled in his anger, and his hatred for sin.  He was gentle with the sinner.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” - Isaiah 40:11

God is infinitely gentle in his love and dealings with us, and we need to learn to take on that gentleness, and not condemn or judge those around us.  We are not to be doormats, but use the power and authority we have been given in a loving and gentle way.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Am I still lost?

I hear rumours that they will be making a sequel to Finding Nemo, which is due to be released in 2016.

I do not know how I feel about that.

On the one fin, Finding Nemo is one of the most awesome films of all time. 

On the other fin, sequels (almost) never do justice to the original, and often cheapen the franchise and characters. 

I wonder how well it will do though.  The original was released in 2003.  Which means that children who were 8 when it came out, will be 20 now. And 25 year olds who saw it and loved it will be 38.

So will the target market be people who saw it the first time, and are now in their 20’s and 30’s?  Or will they be catering to a whole new generation?  An interesting question indeed.

Do you like sequels?  Or do you think things should just be left alone?

Monday, July 16, 2012

How I Preach?


(Thanks to Alex Baker at Cake or Death for this cartoon)

I have been preaching for about three years now, and it still scares me.  I think they day it stops scaring me is the day I stop doing it, because that means I am not taking it seriously enough. 

What I want to talk about today is not three things that make me a great preacher, or three things that make my sermons great.  I want to talk about three things I ask myself while writing each sermon.

These three questions are what I use to determine if I am preaching the right sermon, and whether I should even be preaching at all.

1.What type of message is it?

There are different types of sermons.  Some are focused on a theme, and use scriptures to back them up.  Some start with a Bible Reading, and just look at what it means. Some tell a story from personal experience, and talk about my faith journey. 
If I am doing a textual analysis, then I spend more time on the history and context of the book, the chapter, and the people involved. 
If I am preaching on a theme, then I try to move quicker through the reading itself. 
If I am talking from personal experience… then I really examine it to decide whether it is a sermon, or simply a re-hash of my testimony.

Not all sermons have three points, and start with the same letters.  Some are just focused on helping us to understand what a verse or chapter means.  The earliest sermons started when the Religious Leader would sit down after reading a scroll, and explain what it meant.

Before I present a sermon, I always ask myself, “What is this supposed to be, and why should people listen to it?” This helps to overcome the mistake of making it something it is not.

2.  Who am I talking to?

I do not mean what is the demographic of my congregation, or their spiritual awareness level, or anything like that.  I always ask myself: Is this message for me as well, or just for them?

I never preach a message I do not need to preach to myself first. 
If it sounds too much like it is for the benefit of those around me, and not for me, then I ask myself, “Why am I preaching this?”

I hears preaching referred to once as “One beggar telling another beggar where he can find a feast,” and I always liked that.  I think the temptation for a great many of us is to stand up and think that we have something to share, or something worth hearing, and that temptation leads us to preach down at people. 

I read my sermons over and over, and look for tell-tale signs like saying “You need to” instead of “I think we need to” or saying “People do this” instead of saying  “I find that I do this, and maybe you do to.

If, at the end, I cannot answer the question “How will I apply this to my life today?” then I throw it all away and try something different.

3. How many Sermons am I preaching?

This might sound obvious, but it is amazing how many times I have gone back over what I have written, and realised that I am actually preaching three sermons.

Just this week I preached from the first book of Joshua, and spent some great time digging deep into the word.  I discovered amazing parallels between the Book of Joshua and the Book of Acts, I developed interesting (to me) connections between the person of Joshua and Jesus, I saw interesting lessons in the story of how Joshua came to be the person he was, I saw useful lessons in bravery, and how to use our Bibles, and how to follow God’s commands, and….

..and once I had written it all, the introduction was longer than the sermon itself, and the concluding points were so full of meat that I was forced to cut 75% of my sermon out so that I could focus on just these points.  I even had to cut down the points, because each one was so packed with information, that it was a sermon in itself. 

It was painful.  What I had was a sermon that would keep me interested for about 3 hours.  However, even though my sermons are always preached to myself first, I need to realise that other people are listening in.  People who would lose interest after the third or fourth “”.. and this is interesting because, in the original Hebrew…” or “… and if you go back to the older prophecy, you will see that…”.

I had to stick to three points, support them with scripture, make them personal, and then shut up!


These three questions have helped me in every sermon I ever preached, and every Bible Study I ever wrote or presented, and every article or blog post or comment I have ever made.

I hope there is something useful for you as well. 

But you know how much I love talking to myself.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Fruit–Faithfulness

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



What does faithfulness mean? I think it speaks of honesty, commitment, and doing the right thing in the face of the easy way out.

We are told in Scriptures that God is faithful:

  • Faithful to forgive the repentant (1 John 1:8-10)
  • Faithful to help us overcome temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13)
  • Faithful in His presence (Hebrews 13:5)
  • Faithful in understanding our weakness (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Our response needs to be to build our own faithfulness:

  • We need to be faithful with our talents and wealth and time. (Matthew 25:21)
  • We need to be faithful in our beliefs, even unto death. (Revelation 2:10b)
  • We need to be faithful in our religious attendance.    (Hebrews 10:25)
  • We need to be faithful in our ministry.
  • We need to be faithful in our dealings with others.


from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” Luke 12:48

“With great power, comes great responsibility”



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

If I have to explain this to you…


If I have to explain this to you, then I am not sure we can still be friends. 

Hoo Ha Ha!!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How far for some Fruit?

I know that this Christianity thing is about Love, Peace and Patience

… but can I get some sort of exemption for tele-sales people?

Is it wrong to harass them and make fun of them?  Or do I have to be unfailingly polite, even when they are annoying?

Because if it is, I am not sure that I want to be right.

Just saying.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Science is superstition

Yeah, that ought to start some discussion. 
Let the flame fest begin.


Let me tell you why I say this.

In the news recently, it was announced that the Large Hadron Collider had finally succeeded in smashing enough particles together to discover traces of what could be a Higgs Boson. 

Since this was one of the reasons why the LHC was built in the first place, I had a number of reactions.

    1. Finally, this is very exciting.
    2. I love science.
    3. I wonder how wrong the media will get it when they report this event.
    4. Can we now sell the LHC for scrap, and end World Hunger and Poverty with one single cheque?

To be clear, the Higgs Boson is a small particle (I am simplifying here) which is believed to be responsible for matter having mass.  It was first postulated (I believe) by Peter Higgs in 1964.  His theory was that it must exist, because that was the only way to explain why matter has mass. 

In essence, he observed that there was NO WAY to explain the behaviour of sub-atomic particles without assuming that an invisible “thing” existed that would cause this to happen.  Nobody had ever seen it, nobody knew what it looked like, nobody could even explain how it came to exist.  Only that it must exist, otherwise everything they believed would be wrong.  They judged its existence by the behaviour of matter around it.

That sounds a lot like superstition to me.  Is that any less logical than believing in God, even though we have never seen him, but we have seen his works and felt his presence?

Or take the example of the Graviton.  A Graviton is a sub-atomic particle in all matter that is responsible for gravity.

How do we know it exists?  Because otherwise we have no explanation for gravity.   We can’t explain the gravitational force with the sub-atomics we already know about, so we assume there must exist a mythical particle called “Graviton.”

We know that all matter is governed by four forces:

  • We can explain the Electromagnetic Force with Photons.
  • We can explain the Strong Force with Gluons.
  • We can explain the Weak Force with W & Z bosons.
  • We cannot explain the Gravitational Force… but we know there must exist a solution, so we make up a Graviton.

Science tells us there exist things we can neither see, nor explain, and we just have to have faith until we understand them better. 

So does Religion.  We just get laughed at when WE say it.  

I have seen the evidence of God every day of my life, and felt His presence.  I have all the proof I need.

I will leave you with a quote from the great Dogbert.

science is based on the irrational belief that because we cannot perceive reality all at once, things called "time" and "cause and effect" exist.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Fruit–Goodness

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

We continued our Fruit of the Spirit series with Goodness.

What do you think is meant by Goodness?

Think about “good coffee “or “a good book” or “a good nap.”
Why do we call it good?

I think it means… it did what it was supposed to do.

If we look at Genesis 1, we see the same line over and over, 
“…. And God looked at what he had created, and it was good.”

I think goodness for us is about being the person that God wants us to be, and made us to be. It is about doing what we are supposed to do, and being who we are supposed to be.

Who or what did God create us to be?

  • · We were created for love
  • · We were created for kindness
  • · We were destined for salvation
  • · We were created to become like Him
  • · We were created to seek a relationship with him.

Sometimes Goodness seems a lot like Kindness.  However there are differences:

  • Kindness is about helping, goodness is about doing the right thing.
  • Kindness gives a man bread, goodness does something about hunger.
  • Kindness reaches out a hand, goodness reaches out a heart.

Goodness is measured by how well we do what God calls us to do, and being who he wants us to be.  It grows not from being perfect, or never sinning, but from being a person who seeks God’s way every day.

Goodness is Godness. We become Good as we become more like God.

What do you think Goodness means?