Monday, April 29, 2013

Counterfeit Patience

Rambutan doesn't look very inviting from the outside, but with patience, you break through the tough skin, and what is inside is sweet and delicious.
In the last few posts, we have considered the first three in the list of the fruit of the Spirit. We also looked at their counterfeits - at the characteristics that masquerade as the “real deal” fruit the Holy Spirit wants to grow in us.

Now, let’s look at the fourth item in the list. Let’s look at patience.

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

What is Patience?

I believe most people would admit to not being very patient. We want things when we want them. That is usually sooner, rather than later. I don’t think that encompasses all that patience means.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Counterfeit Peace

Snakefruit (or salak) is rough and scaly on the outside. But if you work through to the inside of a ripe fruit, the flesh has an interesting, tangy taste that admittedly not everyone appreciates. I have discovered, though that snakefruit makes an absolutely delicious substitution for apples in a pie if you cook them slightly first. Like seeking peace in the midst of difficult relationships, the outcome is well worth the effort.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23)
May I ask you a question? Yes? OK. Now, please take time to answer it to yourself before reading on.
What characterizes your life when peace is lacking?
Do you have an answer? Most likely, your first thoughts contained words like “frantic, turmoil, tension, fighting, shouting, indigestion”. When we think of a life lacking in peace, we often think in opposites. Things that are so different that there is no doubt peace is lacking.
In this series, we are not looking at the easily recognizable opposites to each of the fruits of the Spirit. We are looking at the counterfeits to the “real deal” spiritual fruit that the world...or Satan...tries to pass off as genuine.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Counterfeit Joy

Dragon fruit is absolutely delicious.
“Real deal” fruit and counterfeit fruit. God’s Holy Spirit is in the business of cultivating the first in the lives of God’s people. The world is busily trying to convince us that its counterfeit fruit is all we need. All we want.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23)

We’ve already seen how different genuine, outward-focused love is from the counterfeit fruit of self-focused lust.
Now, let’s take a look at the next “real deal” fruit in the list. Joy.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Counterfeit Love

In this series, we are looking at each of the fruit of the Spirit listed by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23)
As I look at this list, it strikes me that each one of the “real deal” fruit that the Holy Spirit grows in the life of believers has a corresponding counterfeit.
The first spiritual fruit in Paul’s list is love. The Holy Spirit grows love in the life of a believer.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Real Deal" Fruit or Counterfeit Fruit?

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

For nearly twenty years, I have lived on the beautiful tropical island of Bali, Indonesia. One of the really, really nice things about living here is the vast variety of interesting and delicious fruit that is available here. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Grandpa Cramer passed away seventeen years ago, and this picture was taken several years before that. I'd guess this photo is about twenty years old, at least. These two are very much loved and missed.
In my last post, I shared a tribute for my grandmother. As I was not able to attend her funeral in person, I wrote the tribute to be read in her honor at the funeral.

I’m still feeling a bit nostalgic, so today, I’ll share a few funny sayings that people in our family associate with my Grandpa and Grandma Cramer.

I’m sure different family members will remember others. So especially to my family, I invite you to share your memories - funny, heartwarming, and otherwise special.

If you did not know my grandparents, but some of what you read here brings back a memory from someone special in your family, go ahead and share that as well.

So, here goes. I’ll get the ball rolling.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

In Memory of My Grandmother

Grandma loved to read. She usually had a stack of 10 or so large-print library books to keep her busy.

As I write this post, sitting in my home office in Bali, Indonesia, most of my family is together in Ohio to say good-bye to my grandmother. Matilda "Tillie" Cramer passed away this past Sunday at age 93. Her funeral starts in an hour-and-a-half. I can't be there, but Grandma's pastor is arranging for me to attend via Skype. I'm so thankful for that. 

I wrote a tribute to Grandma that will be read at the funeral. Very, very few of my readers knew my grandmother, but she was a very special lady who was well worth knowing. I thought I'd share this with you as well. It is my way of honoring her memory tonight.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Choosing the Emperor Over the King

I know we are a week past Easter Sunday, but something has been running through my mind ever since our Good Friday service at my church nine days ago.

At the Good Friday service, I was given the following passage to read from John 19:15. 

They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” 
Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” 
The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.”

Now, I realize that everything that happened in connections with Jesus' trial and crucifixion was already known by God. He wasn't taken by surprise by any of it. Even so, I still find the dynamics that were going on in this situation very interesting...and very challenging.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What Does the Resurrection Mean to Me?

What does the Resurrection mean to me? What difference does it make? This was a question posed to the congregation at my church on Easter Sunday morning. We were given the opportunity to share a brief sentence telling what impact the resurrection of Jesus has made in our lives. After sharing, each person placed a flower at the foot of the cross as a symbol of the life that we have because Jesus died and rose again.

Here are a few of the things that were shared, paraphrased as best I can remember them.

  • Because of what Jesus did, I have a promise of eternity with Him.
  • Jesus’ sacrifice showed His great love for us. We should in turn, pass that love on to others by serving them in any way we can.
  • Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, I don’t have to live a life bound by old habits and bondage.
Many other things were shared, but I must say that I was most deeply touched by the words of my seven-year-old daughter. Three days earlier, her foster mother had passed away. We have maintained relationship with her foster family over the years, so Rachel was grappling with the death of a special person in her life.

She went to the front and picked up a flower. She turned to the congregation and said, “I am sad that my foster mother died, but I am happy that I will see her again in heaven.”

Such simple words. Such simple faith. Yet it is a profound insight into how we can face the difficulties of this life because of the power of the resurrection. Rachel didn't deny the sadness. but she looked past it to the hope she has in Jesus.

Face it. Life is sometimes downright tough. Things are not all sunshine and roses. We all know that. But for we who have placed our trust in Jesus, the difficulties are just a small piece of the puzzle that is life.

The resurrection gives us an eternal perspective. It lifts our spirits out of the mud and mire of circumstances through which we must sometimes pass. It enables us to look ahead…to look up.

When we do, we find light piercing through the darkness. Hope welling up in the midst of grief. Peace bringing calm when everything around us is in turmoil. We find life in the midst of death. We find the Resurrected Christ alive and well, and pouring out His resurrection power into the places that desperately need His touch.

What does the Resurrection mean to you? What difference has it made in your own life? Where do you need a touch from the Resurrected Christ in your own life today? Why not share it in a comment below?
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