“If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13 In our relationships, we value trustworthiness in people. We want to be able to rely on them. The Holy Spirit grows this virtue in … Continue reading
Goodness may be defined as “the deliberate preference of right to wrong, the firm and persistent resistance of all moral evil, and the choosing and following of all moral good.” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary) However, goodness is also difficult to define it without using the word ‘good.’
As I continue to learn about how the Holy Spirit works in me to produce fruit, I’m glad that Easton’s dictionary uses verbs like choosing and following because the words imply I need to be aware of what’s going on around me.
When a rich young ruler approached Jesus hoping for a place in the kingdom, Jesus asked him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone” (Luke 18:19)
The Greek word translated “goodness” is agathosune and means “uprightness of heart and life.” While God sees me as righteous because of my right standing with him, I might want to let others make the judgement call about how upright I am in life. After all, Jesus, who is God, gave all goodness to God alone. He could have claimed it, but in his humility, he glorified his Father.
So can I refer to myself that way, or is it up to others to call me good? Jesus told the man that inheriting the kingdom was more than obeying commandments; he was expected to show his heart, then follow.
I also appreciate that, to be considered good, I must be deliberate, firm, and persistent. Indeed, according to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, being good is not a passive quality. The Spirit leads, I listen, I obey.
Ultimately, the fruit of the Spirit called “goodness,” is defined by, as are the others, the Holy Spirit himself as he works in us to make us good. With the Spirit working in us, we’re able to live a fruitful life. We love, we exhibit joy and peace. We act with kindness, and we have the potential to be good.
So far, so good.
Gracious Father who is all that’s good, continue to lead me in the way. Help me to see the life of Jesus as my model, growing in goodness and giving you all the glory. Amen.
Walking through the cracker aisle for saltines, I decided to pick up a couple boxes of snack crackers. I have my favorites and I usually know exactly what I’m going to use for a spread or dip. I mean, you can’t eat a cracker without a spread or something to dip it in. Can you?
I never met a cheese I didn’t like. So today, Foodie presents three dips and spreads with cheese. Their flavors range from zesty to rather mild.
Creamy Horseradish Dip
- Half pound Velveeta cheese spread, cubed
- One third cup horseradish sauce or 2 T. horseradish
- 1 fourth c. milk
- Microwave ingredients in a one-quart microwave safe bowl on high at 2-minute intervals, stirring each time, until cheese is entirely melted or until you can stir them into a creamy mixture.
- Makes about 1 and 1/3 cups. Serve with vegetables, chicken nuggets, or chicken fingers. Sometimes I add a dash of hot sauce for a little more kick.
Bacon Cheese Spread
- 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 T. finely chopped onion
- One third c. sour cream
- 3 slices crisp-cooked bacon, crumbled
- Mix all ingredients together until thoroughly blended.
- Makes about 1 one half cups
Hot Artichoke and Spinach dip
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- One fourth cup mayonnaise
- One fourth cup grated parmesan cheese
- One fourth cup grated Romano cheese
- 1 clove garlic
- One fourth t. garlic powder
- Half t. basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 14 oz. can artichokes, drained and chopped
- Half cup frozen spinach thawed and thoroughly drained
- One fourth cup grated mozzarella
- In a large bowl, beat until smooth the cream cheese and mayonnaise. Blend in the Parmesan and Romano cheeses, garlic, basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl.
- Gently stir in the spinach and artichokes. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. Transfer mixture to dish. Top with mozzarella and bake at 350 degrees until cooked through and bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes.
- In addition to the old standby tortilla chips, pita chips and crusty bread are good choices for dipping in this one.
And here’s one that uses dairy, but not cheese, and adds something fruity to your zesty dip choices.
Mix by hand 1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream, 1 fourth t. paprika, 2 t. honey and 1 fourth cup crushed pineapple (drained). Chill for about one hour before serving for flavors to blend. You can use the juice from the pineapple to soak apple slices for dipping. Dip the usual fruits or try vanilla wafers. For a sweet/salty taste, dip mini pretzels.
When someone says the word ‘kindness,’ what we think of can be a mixture of other words as we consider how to define it. We think about how people are nice; that they act in a loving way; or that … Continue reading
The word is Patience, but in some Bibles, it’s translated as ‘longsuffering.’
That’s interesting. “Suffer long” isn’t something I would say I’m good at. Compared to even a couple years ago, I’m more patient, but I still experience times when I want immediate relief.
Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. And when the Spirit fills us, we will develop patience. The Holy Spirit begins to grow us in virtue and character when we decide to fully devote ourselves to Jesus. Patience isn’t dropped from Heaven in one fell swoop. We listen to what God’s Spirit is saying, then it’s up to us to behave in a patient manner. We bloom, then reap a harvest of fruit.
It isn’t necessarily a bad idea to pray for patience. But we want to remember that saying “Be careful what you pray for.” A friend of mine shared her experience praying that way. She said, “I prayed for patience, but God didn’t send me patience all wrapped up in a box with a bow on top. I got pregnant.” She was happy about the gift God did send and she certainly learned patience raising that boy.
We learn to love by exercising love. We have joy and peace when we exercise faith. God says, “Come now, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18).
Listening to the Holy Spirit, whose native language is love, joy, peace, and patience, means we’re hearing the logic of exercising those things. Surely God has emotions and he gives us emotions to help us in our times of need. But he also wants us to think. Things just go better for everyone when we are patient, not wanting our way or being unable to accept whatever is going on in the moment.
“Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way” (Psalm 37:7).
The wisdom from Heaven is mature, for it is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy” (James 3:17).
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like what patience must be like. I confess though, sometimes it doesn’t sound like me at all.
Patience is associated with maturity. We put away childish things. How I exercise patience and what the lack of it looks like became more clear when I could make this distinction: there’s a big difference between being childlike and being childish.
Simply put, our lives can be so much better when we see how patience smooths the way.
How has God spoken to you about patience? How has he given you opportunities to exercise patience?
Lord, you are patient with us; teach us to be the same. We ask for the humility we need to exercise patience and to give up control. Lead us through every circumstance and show us what’s getting in the way of trusting you and keeping our heads in things great and small. Amen
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
In the list of fruit which will be evident in our lives as we submit to the Holy Spirit, peace is mentioned third in line. But that doesn’t mean we should master love and joy before we can have peace. The Spirit begins working all fruit in us as soon as we give our lives to Christ and decide to follow him.
If you’ve read my thoughts on Love and Joy, you might begin to understand that we don’t ‘tackle’ them as if striving to exhibit the fruit. Jesus says these are for the taking when we’re surrendered to his will. After a while, peace is our natural state of being. In my experience, agreeing with God about his purposes and the way he does things has proven to be a pretty good idea.
“Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” Psalm 119:165
When Jesus healed a woman who had suffered bleeding for twelve years he told her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:48) Likewise, a local woman known for her sins crashed a party and poured expensive perfume on Jesus, washing his feet with her hair. While others criticized her, Jesus affirmed her. “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” (Luke 7:48, 50)
When a Jew talks about peace, the word means ‘shalom.’ Shalom encompasses more to a Jew than a state of mind and body. To wish someone this kind of peace is to also wish them prosperity and wholeness. I think it’s significant that Jesus also recognized the faith they had in him. Trusting God completely will bring that kind of peace.
“And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
From the moment Christ’s birth was foretold, peace defined him. His character and attributes never suggest chaos or unrest. His wholeness, peace, love, and joy become ours. The peace the world offers is fleeting and often based on emotions, but God’s peace is based on the faith we have in him. It’s based on his gifts of unconditional acceptance and unconditional love. With the peace of God, our condition can be calm and not anxious, regardless of what’s happening around us.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Do you know someone who seems to always be at peace? What can you learn from them about living a life of peace? How do you respond when your circumstances challenge your inner life?
Jesus, we offer ourselves to you and trust you. Thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to grow us and mature us in the grace you give, a never-ending grace. Your peace is what we need. We ask you to not remove us from the world, but protect our hearts from the anxieties we see there. We come to you for rest and worship you as our Prince of Peace. Amen
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Psalm 103:8
One of the things that I really love about what King David is saying in this particular verse here is that it’s a when God is angry. He’s slow to anger, but he does indeed get angry. Personally, I’m reminded of times when the Holy Spirit’s conviction on my heart is exactly what I needed to recognize God’s righteous anger toward my sin.
But I think more often God is sad about what we’ve done or said. That was certainly the case when he saw man’s wickedness and decided to flood the earth, then start over with Noah’s family. “The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth and his heart was filled with pain.” He was also grieved about King Saul turning away from him and by Saul’s disobedience.
God’s anger isn’t reserved solely for the Old Testament. He demonstrates righteous anger in several cases with Jesus. The money lenders in the temple, for example. They not only turned the court into a marketplace, their intrusion there made it impossible for the Gentiles to participate in worship. He also showed anger with the Pharisees in the temple one day. They wanted to find a reason to accuse Jesus because he intended to heal a man with a shriveled hand. “He looked around at them in anger.”
I think it takes something pretty important to make God angry and I think that’s why David says he’s slow to anger. But the Lord has every right to be angry when he sees some of the sinful ways we act out like we do. Old Testament or New, God is immutable in his character and if he could get angry millenniums ago, he can get angry now.
But his mercy! His grace! We’re comforted in knowing that even though the Lord can be angered, we’re never rejected. He welcomes us to rest in his inconceivable and constant grace.
Father, we trust in you. Show us your power and love in the ways you patiently handle our sins. Make us more aware of the things that grieve your heart and lead us in the way everlasting. Amen
Fractured Fairy Tales told by A.J. Jacobs; Bantam Books; copyright 1997; 183 pages
More than once I’ve read something by A.J. Jacobs and got a good laugh. His narrated versions of the Fractured Fairy Tales from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends made me want to go to YouTube and watch those clever episodes I watched as a kid. Jacobs did a wonderful job translating them to print.
These “Tales” are silly take-offs of original fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel, The Princess and the Pea, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rumpelstiltskin. We remember them with delight even though they were a little twisted. Or maybe because they were twisted. Jacobs adds a bit of description because we miss the visuals we’d have if watching the stories on TV. Honestly, it’s not a distraction; it adds to the stories. Artwork is mostly of the frustrated Fairy Godmother. (Weren’t her expressions great?)
The compelling thing about reading the fractured fairy tales is how you can almost hear those voices from the cartoons. The voice characterizations were, in my opinion, more fun—not to mention more varied and less annoying—than the voices used in modern cartoons for kids.
And because fairy tales were a big part of our lives when Rocky and Bullwinkle first made the scene, even we could see the absurdity of how twisted the plots became. I mean, who ever heard of a witch worth her salt who needed a little girl to teach her how to fly a broomstick? (Way to go, Gretel.) And what a surprise that the witch didn’t eat them but instead…wait, no spoilers.
Jay Ward’s satirical and subversive Fractured Fairy Tales came to us before the age of “politically correct.” They’re just as witty and clever as you remember them. And full of puns. Let’s not forget the puns.
I think on one of those nights I can’t sleep and figure I may as well be up, I’ll pull out my copy of Fractured Fairy Tales and treat myself to a bedtime story. A good laugh is every bit as good as a good toddy.
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