Candy blogs: I was so changed by Beth Moore’s study, Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit, that I was inspired to create these postcards. I had a special person in mind to send them to when I thought of making them. But I think they’re worth sharing with everyone. I’ll share one each day.
The year 2010 has been bittersweet for the Troutmans. Unemployed for 10 months, cutting our budget to the bone, broken family relationships, an uncertain economical future but we discovered that we can live on less and still be very happy. I have learned so much at Jesus’ feet this year. I have enjoyed having more time for ministry, following my dream, making our home cozier and spending time with the husband of my youth. I have been blessed by friends and family. I participated in my very first Beth Moore Bible Study! We paid off our car. My drummer boy and I have a brand new prayer life together. And I now have a wonderful temporary, part time job.
I am looking forward to the new year! Wherever you find yourself, look forward. Beth Moore would say to look forward to feel the spiritual wind in your face! I long to ride those winds wherever God wants to take me. I want to allow all the qualities of the fruit of the Spirit to fully develop in my life.
What are you looking forward to in 2011?
Candy blogs: Just finished a Beth Moore study, Living Beyond Yourself (Fruit of the Spirit). What a powerful ten weeks! I needed to let it all settle in, see how my life was going to look with all this new understanding. So I looked up the words in the title:
Living: the act or condition of a person or thing that lives; active or thriving; vigorous; strong; in actual existence or use
Beyond: outside the understanding, limits or reach of, more than in the past; surpassing, farther on than, more than
Yourself: your normal or customary self
So “living beyond yourself” actually means putting into actual, vigorous use new understanding that was previously outside my limit or reach, and in doing so, it becomes part of my normal or customary self.
I was one of those people who didn’t have to try very hard to do pretty well. I never aced anything, but I could be above average without much effort. I ‘winged’ my way through school and Sunday School, going only as far as my normal, customary self could take me, never putting my shoulder to a task to perhaps take it to another level.
As an adult, my activities changed from memorizing verses and singing Sunday School songs to chairing committees and reading popular Christian self-help books and taking seminars and special training classes and going to great Bible Studies. None of these things were wrong. But in reality, I was just continuing to accumulate knowledge ABOUT God. My walk with Jesus hadn’t really changed that much. I knew all this STUFF but it wasn’t really doing anything for me.
It was a frustrating way to live. Still had that anger problem, still had that controlling spirit, still had that mouth that spoke before my mind engaged, still had that self-sufficient attitude … was still impatient, lied when I had to, was still selfish in my marriage, still thought everyone should think like I did; I still judged people, still thought I had to DO stuff to win God’s approval and the approval of others. Man, that is one long list.
The one thing that kept driving me forward with the Lord was that somewhere down in the deepest part of me, I truly loved Jesus and wanted to be more like Him. I didn’t always know what that should look like or how to get there.
So I started CHOOSING and DOING, CHOOSING and DOING.
• Did I want to be patient? Then I had to start thinking of difficult people and circumstances differently than my normal, customary self did.
• Did I want my husband to be happier? Then I had to stop thinking of my own high and mighty princess needs first.
• Did I want to be less angry and more calm? Then I needed to dig into God’s Word to find out what I was so angry about. I needed to sit at Jesus’ feet and LISTEN for a change instead of filling my prayers with whining and lists of requests to change other people.
• Did I want to be free of the need for the constant approval of others? Then I needed to learn how to minister quietly but work unapologetically in my strengths.
I couldn’t have it both ways. (Old normal, customary self – new normal, customary self) I I couldn’t live in the power of the Spirit and continue on as I always had. The Spirit is dynamic, moving, changing, growing. Knowledge didn’t transform me. If it did, we’d all be acing Spiritual 101.
Beth Moore said in this study that “I must abandon my own will and my own agenda. That as long as I nurse my own will, the personalized daily will of God will be thwarted in me.” It all gets down to that. It is a moment by moment choice whether we let the Fruit of the Spirit develop in us and become part of our NEW normal, customary self.
A blogging friend, Barbara Harper, recently said this, “Whether dealing with a sin issue, a personality bent, or even a spiritual gift, “That’s just the way I am” is not a good excuse. God wants us to seek Him for deliverance from the power of sin, for power and grace to maintain right balances and to be diligent even in areas where we don’t have natural gifts, and for help to grow continually more Christlike every day we live. He does not want us to remain “just the way we are.” II Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord”. We’re changed….by beholding Him.”
But God is infinitely patient and merciful with us even if our lives haven’t changed at all. He doesn’t love us less when it takes longer to abandon our agenda, or love us more when we obey quickly. Can you grasp that? Our behavior doesn’t affect God’s love for us. It’s more like the difference between an acquaintance and a life-long friend. An acquaintance friendship doesn’t require much of us. But a life-long friend is the result of investing in the relationship over time. Which friendship we experience is totally up to us. How much do we want of God?
The way to a relationship, a friendship, with God all started with Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus … all man and all God, with a purpose to be the one final sacrifice that paid the penalty for my sin. God won’t barge into our lives and DEMAND change of us. That’s not His style. But He does LONG for us. He’s willing to wait until we’re not too busy or too noisy or too consumed with our own agenda.
I heard a song on Saturday morning that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind. It’s called Winter Snow and was written by Audrey Assad.
Could’ve come like a mighty storm
with all the strength of a hurricane
You could’ve come like a forest fire
with the power of heaven in your flame
But you came like a winter snow
quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
to the earth below
Could’ve swept in like a tidal wave
or an ocean to ravish our hearts
You could have come through like a roaring flood
to wipe away the things we’ve scarred
No, your voice wasn’t in a bush burning
No, your voice wasn’t in a rushing wind
It was still, it was small, it was hidden
That’s how Jesus comes to us … when we’re quiet enough to hear Him and our minds are open and our spirits are willing and our hearts are ready … for change. His way is always best for us. He ALWAYS has our best in mind when He convicts us to abandon our own agenda. When we’re willing to put our shoulder to the task of becoming more like Jesus, He does the work. He makes the change.
Beth Moore puts all the Fruit of the Spirit into one sentence:
… to love, to experience joy, to know peace, to express patience, to possess kindness and respond in goodness, to be faithful, gentle and submissive to His will, restrained and under control.
Let it be so in me.
JOY to the world!
Candy blogs: Are you enjoying the Christmas spirit yet? Are you loving the music and the snow and the chill in the air and the warmth of friends and family and the JOY of the Lord? Yes? Wonderful! No? What is keeping you from a joy-filled Christmas?
Are you grieving?
♥ … the loss of loved ones
Does Christmas mark a difficult anniversary of the passing of someone close to you? Let the memories come up. Let them stay awhile and remember how much they added to your life. But don’t dwell there. Allowing yourself to wallow in grief can be toxic in so many ways. Instead choose to celebrate the precious lives of those you miss. This is how they would want to be remembered, don’t you think?
♥ … the loss of relationships
This time of year is for spending time with loved ones. Perhaps your loved one rejected you through a break up or a divorce. Maybe a close friend has moved away and you can’t share daily life together anymore. Or you have allowed a rift to develop between you and your parents or your child. Let the hurt come up. Let it stay awhile. But don’t dwell there. Wallowing in the hurt only intensifies the pain. Choose to keep moving forward toward healing. Learn to let go.
♥ … the loss of a job
This has been a truly difficult year economically for our country. I have been unemployed for nine long months myself. Many have lost their homes and possessions. Along with the loss of a job comes the loss of self worth and feelings of powerlessness. Marriages can become tense; children can become afraid of the future. As the months have gone by, my husband and I have discovered that we really can live on a lot less than we thought we needed. Our needs have changed, become more basic. We have watched God provide for our needs. We have chosen to draw closer to each other. Do all you can, and let God be God of your finances.
Troubled about the money you may or may not be spending?
♥ … embarrassed that you can’t buy gifts for all the people you usually do?
This troublesome attitude usually comes more from our own heads than from anyone we usually buy gifts for.
♥ … buying gifts even though you may not have the money?
Think of tomorrow and how painful it will be when the bills come due. Think of what you’re teaching your children by spending money you don’t have. There are many other ways to celebrate the Christmas spirit than overspending on things that will be broken or laid aside in short order.
♥ … using Christmas and sales and great deals to feed your shopping habit because “it’s for other people” and not yourself?
Hanging on to issues you have no control over?
♥ … hurt or unresolved feelings
These things won’t go away on their own. They won’t go away if we pretend they don’t exist. Communicate, for heaven’s sake! We can’t read each other’s minds. We get “stuck” when we choose not to work through differences and misunderstandings. Who wants to be stuck?!
♥ … unforgiveness
Unforgiveness only hurts ourselves. It does not affect the offender. Forgiving doesn’t mean you are denying a wrong done to you. It only means that you release its hold on your ability to function in a healthy way. I believe forgiveness is a choice, not an emotion. You may still have feelings of pain but you don’t dwell there anymore, and you don’t have to let your feelings dictate your state of mind and your hope for the future.
“Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again … my lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you.” Psalm 71:20, 23
♥ … pride
Our pride keeps us from being the one to move toward reconciliation. Perhaps you’re the wronged one. Maybe you are right. It should be THEIR place to come to ME to apologize. Our pride keeps us holding on to hurt feelings or being right. Is your pride worth the loss of relationship?
First things first …
♥ … Jesus is the reason for the season
Jesus came to earth as one of us, a baby. But He is God and we worship Him today, just as they worshiped Him when He was born. His love and grace are poured into us so we can pour it out onto our loved ones especially in this season. We celebrate His coming!
♥ … time spent with loved ones building relationship
Is being right worth broken relationships? Are hurt feelings worth withholding ourselves from each? Do material things or lack of them truly represent and/or build relationship? Nothing is worth broken relationships. Nothing. Come together with your loved ones.
♥ … the choice is yours … why wait? Are you hanging on to that familiar lump of coal when you could be having bouquets of roses, messages of joy and a praising heart?
“He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—
and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.”
There is plenty of time for healing and celebrating this Christmas!
Joy awaits you!