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Archive for the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ Category

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“I’ve learned there are some things worth having, but they come at a price, and I want to be one of them.” The quote is from a woman named Karen, the subject of the 1937 novel and subsequent movie “Out of Africa”.

As I get older, I confess to conjuring up a bit of a “bucket list”, but admittedly, traveling to Africa was not tops in that department. Not, that is until a colleague and I were discussing potential for the establishment of a business line in Kigali, Rwanda. Then we began to discuss the need to go establish banking and other relationships, and I began to get a bit more interested. Seeing the “Gorillas in the Mist”? Hmm.

Then, we began to discuss necessary vaccinations, and he said the fateful words: “You won’t be able to give blood anymore”.

Ouch. Small stick, then a burn, followed by several small squeezes…

There is a blood drive coming up soon at our church, and even before hearing a passionate plea this past Sunday morning regarding the value of blood donations from the father of a cancer patient, the friendly vampires from The Oklahoma Blood Institute had called to inform me that I was again “eligible”.

As evidenced by the stack of T-Shirts pictured above, and this is only a fraction of those collected over the years, I’ve donated a few gallons in my time.

You see, Bing (Jeffrey Bing) really is an agent 007, and I even have that logo on an OBI shirt to prove it. I possess O Negative blood, the universal donor type, as does .7% (.007) of our society. To top it all off, I am CMV negative as well, meaning I’ve never had a common flu like virus where antibodies would be harmful to preemie babies and others who are ill.

I must admit, I don’t love the exercise of giving, but I cherish being gifted to perform said act. Very few (.007, anyone?) can give their blood and know that a small baby or a very sick loved one might see new days because of my slight inconvenience and minor pain. I don’t know that I’m ready to give that up, just yet. I’m just not sure if my calling is over in that department.

At my last donation, I was feeling good about clearing over 4 gallons when an older gentlemen nearby told me that he’d surpassed 13. Wow. I was humbled. Maybe I needed to hear that as a challenge and motivation to prioritize “the list”.

Maybe the gorillas will have to be seen on Discovery Channel. Maybe the banking can be done via phone, internet, and FedEx. Maybe a yet to be born child needs “a little bit o’ Bing” to brighten their day?

Here’s where you come in: are you giving the gift of life? Some can’t for various reasons, but many can but have never tried. You could save a life. You could save many!

“I’ve learned there are some things worth having, but they come at a price, and I want to be one of them.” I think I’m not done being an OBI special agent just yet, even if it keeps me “Out of Africa”.

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Coffee as an analogy for life? Some would suggest that coffee is life, and I would concur at times. For certain, life often begins each day after a first cup, but today I wish to ponder it before I drink it.

As I prepared the first “nectar of life” carafe of the day yesterday, I considered the description: “House Blend. Lively. Balanced. Intensity: Medium”.

What better way to describe my desired persona in the Bing Dynasty? Having lived at times like some other less desirable coffees, strong, bitter, heavy after taste, I prefer to be the “House Blend”.

Another desirable analogy is fruit: nourishing, refreshing, appealing, “juicy”, and at it’s heart, a seed ready for planting.

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

Certainly, if not coffee, I’d rather be compared to fruit vs. a fruitcake, but I digress.

If you will excuse me now, I need to go brew up a pot of the magic elixir. It’s about time for life to begin on a hot Saturday in Oklahoma…

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A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.” Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly. Matthew 26:73-75

I read a piece last night regarding the markets where a financial analyst in London was calling for one more big drop near term in stocks, “retesting a recent low”, before they would rocket ahead to new highs.

Isn’t that a great analogy for how we live? Sometimes, do we have to hit rock bottom before we are ready to propel forward? It’s like all the “panic selling” and “short term investor” parts of our personalities and spirit have to be excised, albeit sometimes painfully, before we are clear to start a new trading pattern that takes us higher and higher. Grief. Guilt. Regret. You name it, and we have to get it out before we can move on.

Peter was a great example. “And he went away, weeping bitterly”. Judas is an example of exactly the opposite. You can’t sell out and go away. Potential, promise, and redemption always await, but we have to take the first step. Peter set a future course to do great things, and the sky was his only, and final, limit.

I have been there. I’ve talked with good friends who have as well. I know others whose “wept bitterly” moment has likely not yet arrived, and I can only pray that when it does good friends are there to reinvest and help them “stay in the market” and invest towards new highs. It’s exactly what Jesus did with Peter.

John 21: 12-17 “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”

“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”

“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.

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I heard this song on the radio during the drive and drop to school and work yesterday. Great lyric vault moment reminder of the blessings from one another, and the realization of this world’s shortcomings, as our friends and neighbors recover from loss:

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Blessings. Lyrics by Laura Story.

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….I was eating an orange; and it got me to thinking (sorry to spoil the fun).

To be specific, it was Weatherford, Texas, and it was the later half of 1995.     Sherry and I only had one child at that time in our lives.    We felt called to be very involved in our small, aging inner city church, and for some reason I felt it was “my duty” to encourage others to be more involved in the stuff that we were doing. So as I sat in our house out in the sticks one afternoon, eating that orange, the children’s song about the fruit of the Spirit began to emanate from little Hannah’s bedroom:

“the fruit of the Spirit’s not an apple,
The fruit of the Spirit’s not an apple.
So, if you’ve got an apple
You might as well eat it,
Cause that’s not the fruit of the Spirit.

The Spirit is…..”

You can likely cite the rest, and it got me to thinking (sorry to spoil the fun).


I looked down at my orange, and more specifically the seeds I had been pulling out as I ate it, and the analogy was clear: not only is fruit refreshing and nourishing, but it plants a seed. I shared that analogy shortly thereafter, while peeling an orange during a Wednesday evening devotional talk (“sermonette”, complete with the scripted/ seemingly required “invitation song”) in that small church. I thought I had a lot of things figured out. I probably still tend to think that today, from time to time, but life, mother earth, and father time are kind enough to frequently remind me of the fallacy in that kind of thinking.

Fast forward to 2011. As I recalled this moment in history the other day, I began to wonder: “what kind of fruit (if any?) do I produce in life: fruit, or fruitcake?

Have you ever been the recipient of a fruitcake? Part bread, part chemically treated dried fruit and nuts, and hard as a brick, such delicacies used to be the standard/favored “Christmas gift by mail” sent by financial institutions to offices like the ones I have worked in over the years. It was their own little way of saying “thank you”. Some thanks; it was more like an assasination attempt on your taste buds and your teeth, if not your life itself. Why did people ever send those? How did people ever enjoy those? Oh well, it was another era; another time and place. But why did I used to do some of the things I used to do?

You don’t see fruitcakes much anymore. Today, banks and others send their customers “Harry and David ” gift baskets. Much more practical, much more attractive, and much tastier, these gifts are often much enjoyed and appreciated. And yet, in almost every gift basket, there is some type of food strangely resembling a small baked item that no one ever wants to bite into.

“They” say in some small way everyone wants to be a star. So as we each play out our roles in the “Star Wars” of life, what kind of fruit are we bearing? What kind of fruit am I bearing? Is it nourishing? Is it refreshing? Is it pleasant to view? Does it plant a seed? Or am I simply churning out rock hard fruitcakes? The old saying “it’s the thought that counts” does not really ring true in the spiritual sense, now does it?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:16-20: By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Time to get and keep my pruning shears out. I want to bear good fruit. In the meantime, try the apple: it’s delicious:

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