I’ve never tasted a fruit cake I like, but I’ve
been thinking about them since my friend’s ten year old daughter, Rachel, had
another one of her Heaven dreams.
(See my earlier post about Rachel
She told her
mom they baked a cake in Heaven made out of the fruit of the Spirit listed
in Galatians 5:22.
“.. the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
“It is good for our spirit because it is made out of spirit stuff. It is good
for our bodies because it comes from our spirit into our bodies where we need
Maybe this fruit cake dream is a message and
reminder that the fruit of the Spirit, which we tend to think of as individual traits,
are connected; intertwined.
wondering which one or two we need most, we are meant to see the need for ALL
So, how do we assimilate these fruit into our daily life?
is the recipe for Spirit Fruit Cake?
step in the recipe is recognizing a need for these attributes; having a hunger
to be more like Christ in every area of life and a desire to display His
character in every circumstance.
stomach is hungry we have an insatiable craving to fill it and go to great
measures to ensure our body is fed.
hunger for sustenance that feeds the spirit, it is doomed to shrivel rather
we are destined for a constant struggle to be good enough on our own.
remind any of us how often that fails.
Mix (add all
Testament speaks often of being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and
walking in the Spirit filled life (Galatians 5:16).
When we receive
Christ and are filled with the Holy Spirit the seeds of His fruit are planted
within us. They are one of His many gifts that help us live the abundant life Jesus
promised (John 10:10).
of these fruit depend on our need and use of them. They develop in the watered
and fertile soil of a heart surrendered to God.
1 Peter 1:
5-9 instructs us, with diligence, to “add to your faith virtue, to virtue
knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control
perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to
godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor
unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is not a buffet, picking and
choosing the fruit we like or wondering which one or two we need most.
Like any good recipe, one ingredient
blends into the next and the full use of one fruit at work in
us is hindered without incorporating the others; they cannot come to fruition
What good is
it to be a patient person if we are not kind? Where is gentleness without love?
How can we have longsuffering if we don’t possess self control? Is it even
possible to have joy without peace?
Gentleness, kindness, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control interact with one another to
create the entire recipe in the Spirit Fruit Cake.
Not one ingredient can be
left out with an expectation for the finished product to turn out right.
Bake (turn up the heat!)
We all face daily situations
that present us with opportunity to react in multiple ways. Here is where the trouble
How will we
respond when the choice is callousness or kindness, irritation or patience, strife
or peace, rudeness or gentleness?
To feed our
body well and keep it healthy we have to make wise food choices. Denying our flesh
the convenient route by making a salad, takes more thought and preparation than
grabbing a candy bar.
natural response to adverse and annoying inconvenience is usually an unhealthy serving
of selfishness and pride. Emotion takes over, words are unleashed and when the deed
is done, regret and misery settle in where God’s peace and serenity should live.
If we ask, God meets our practice of these fruit at each
situation we face, with unlimited grace and at the exact moment of need.
aware of God’s amazing grace at work in our life, allows us to hold our
tongue, curb our anger or see an irritating person from a different perspective.
Only He can give us insight and discernment into what triggers our flawed
the Fruit of the Spirit is a lifelong process. The more we practice the easier
it becomes to react out of Christ-like love, instead of flesh and out of spiritual
discernment rather than human emotion.
point we more consistently respond with gentleness instead of harshness,
patience instead of annoyance, gentleness instead of rudeness, joy instead of
of God takes dominance over self and others are now fed by the nourishing fruit
you want to be yet? Don’t despair, there’s plenty of fruit cake to go around.
A steady diet of this recipe is recommended.
calorie counting is required.
Colossians 1:9-11 “For
this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you,
and to ask…that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good
work and increasing in the knowledge of God..”
Colossians 1:27 "Christ in you,the hope of glory."
I took Jon to Wendy’s fast food
restaurant the other day…well…let’s say, I tried.
He emerged from his room in the
early afternoon, around 1pm, desperately needing a shower, shave and change of
clothes and headed for the garage to get in the car; his signal that, ” I’d
like to go someplace now.”
I told him there would be no
going anywhere looking like he just crawled out from under a rock. He frowned
and shuffled back inside to the bathroom.
By the time we got in the car, Jon
had showered, put on clean clothes and it was almost 7:30 pm.
He was also wearing a plastic headband
with paper Mickey Mouse ears taped to it, garden gloves and a flowered belt
from my closet. Random items were tucked between the belt and his waist, a
plastic sword, a drumstick, a long glow stick with a bright red heart on the end
and several other unidentified objects.
He handed me a note and I stared
at the scrawled print trying to figure out what it said. Considering the way he
was decorated, I had a feeling I already knew.
I deciphered the words, DISENI
and MIKEY MOSE and realized I was correct. He wanted to go to Disney.
Problem number one, it was
already late and we don’t live in Kissimmee anymore. From there, Disney was a fifteen
minute drive. Now that we’re located thirty miles north of Orlando, Disney is an
hour away, maybe more depending on interstate traffic.
Problem number two, our Disney passes
expired several years ago and Jon doesn’t understand it costs a bundle to get
in the park and is barely worth the price when you’re staying all day. Forget
it if you’re showing up an hour or two before it closes.
I handed the note back, “Sorry Dude,
it’s too late to go to Disney now. You took so long getting ready we don’t have
much time to go anywhere. How about Wendy’s or McDonalds. They’re both open
He scowled as he took the note
back and turned it over. I waited another ten minutes until he finally wrote
WEDYS on the back. By the time we pulled into Wendy’s parking lot it was
I shut off the car and told him
that his costume was pretty impressive but “If you don’t want people staring at
you all night then you better take all that stuff off and leave it in the car.”
Sometimes he cares about that, other
times, not. He carefully took everything off except the flowered belt.
I got out of the car and walked
over to wait for him near the door. It was now 8:30.
Jon stayed in the car at least
another ten minutes trying to decide what he wanted to bring inside. Finally
the door opened and another five minutes passed, then two legs appeared beneath.
After several minutes went by he stood
up. He remained statue still in that spot for about five minutes.
He finally shut the door and stayed next to the car for nearly ten minutes, pushing buttons on an imaginary
keypad under the door handle.
I pulled out my remote and hit the lock button. The
horn beeped. Jon frowned.
It took him another eight minutes
to walk from the car to the sidewalk curb. Once he was actually on the sidewalk
that led to the entrance, I went inside, sat down at a table near the window
and continued to watch his slow progress toward the door.
While I watched, a woman who had
passed me thirty minutes prior, as I waited on the sidewalk, finished eating and
came back by me to leave. She glanced out the window at Jon, who was slowly
making his way to the door in intermittent starts and pauses.
“Are you with him?” She asked.
“Yes.” I forced a smile.
I was hungry and tired of waiting.
Honestly, I really wanted to go outside and give my kid a big boot in the
behind with my foot to get him moving. It took every ounce of self control I
had and a lot of Jesus talking to stay in that chair and keep waiting.
I also realized if someone saw me
do that, I’d probably be in handcuffs for assaulting a disabled person in Wendy’s
parking lot. So I stayed put and prayed for more patience and grace and tried
to put my thoughts on something other than my snail slow child.
“Is he your son?” the woman asked,
not waiting for an answer. “I’m a special ed teacher in Orlando,” she
continued.”It sure takes a lot of patience sometimes doesn’t it?”
“Yes it does,” I replied, “And I
think I’m about to run out if he doesn’t get in here pretty soon.”
I smiled again, hoping she wouldn’t
think worse of me for what I’d just said. She was trying to complement me after
Her preschool size grandson was
pulling on her, stretching her arm so far he slid sideways to the floor. He was
ready to go and I found myself wishing Jon was like him; wishing I could be
over the agonizing amount of waiting that happens whenever I take Jon any place.
The woman smiled back. “You are a very patient person,”
I was thankful what I was really feeling wasn’t showing on the
I realized then that we easily confuse self control with patience. I was anything BUT patient right
then. My ability, by God’s grace, to control myself when I wanted to do
anything but had been perceived as patience.
“Thank You God, for self control,” I said
out loud to God and myself as she turned to leave.
Self control isn’t a popular topic
in our impatient culture but it’s such a crucial foundation to the other
character qualities we need. Love, peace, endurance, tolerance, kindness,
gentleness, patience all start with putting self aside for the good of another.
Proverbs 25:28 states, “A man without
self-controlis like a
city broken into and left without walls.” Sounds to me like a place left defenseless. Without
self control, all boundaries are gone and every destructive thing has access to
with Jon didn’t end any better than it started. He came through the restaurant
door at 9:25pm. We ordered by 9:40 and I sat back down while Jon took his time
at the soda machine and condiment counter.
quickly and was booting up my laptop, relaxing into a few hours of writing time, when the
manager walked back to let me know they were closing.
We had to leave.
“At 10 o’clock?”
I asked in disbelief. Hadn’t I seen advertisements, posters and billboards announcing
Wendy’s late night hours all over the place?
even sat down yet. He was still pumping ketchup into little paper cups.
put my laptop away and readied myself for the struggle coming to get him back
out the door he had just come through.
for self control.
Like my good
friend Glee always says, “Just ‘cause self control is last on the list doesn’t
mean it’s not important,”
Galatians 5:22-23 But the
fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
you’re there right now, a time in life when everything safe, secure and
comfortable has been uprooted.
Turned upside down.
may have descended in the middle of a bright sunny day with a phone call, a
diagnosis, a betrayal, a loss, a failure.
an instant, you are overshadowed by gloom and despair and not one glimmer of light
flickers to guide you to a solution.
feel trapped in a dark place with no way out. Abandoned. Alone. Afraid.
are we to do in the darkness, through the long night of struggle and heartache?
noticed several amazing plants in my garden that illustrate the answer to this question
in different ways:
Cassia tree, abundant in clusters of symmetrical leaves, is covered with bright
yellow flowers in Autumn. A small shrub-like tree, it grows twelve to fifteen
butterflies, the large yellow-winged variety, are attracted to the Cassia and
will rest on its branches even when it isn’t flowering.
An amazing characteristic of the Cassia is how it folds its leaves together at
dusk, as if putting little hands together for bedtime prayers.
Cassia “prays” all night and when the sun rises in the morning the leaves open
to another day of butterfly welcoming.
life without prayer is a life without light. What better time to pray than
when we can’t see where we’re going?
lyric to an old hymn put it this way:
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Four O’clock plant has small trumpet-like flowers that remain closed during the
evening comes they open, displaying a mass of color across the top of their
waxy stems and releasing a mild, sweet fragrance into the night.
we sit on the patio in the evening the delightful scent is carried to us on the
breeze. This flower puts on its greatest display in the darkness.
Four O’clock is not concerned about the setting sun. It was made to rejoice in
and Silas, in the darkness of a dreary prison cell (Acts 16), praised God in
the middle of the night, the fragrance of their worship carried on the wind of
the Holy Spirit to God’s throne.
praise brought the answer to their problem and set them free.
Poinsettia plant is famous for its beautiful red Christmas blooms.
blooms are actually the plant’s green leaves which slowly transform into a
brilliant red color as the daylight hours shorten and nights grow longer.
need the long dark nights of autumn and early winter, to convert leaves from
green to red. The process takes about six to eight weeks but the plant can only
produce the bright red color we all enjoy, in darkness.
night seasons of life are mostly unwelcome, but they create something beneficial
in us and for others, if we let them.
1:3-4, shows us that these troubles test our faith and produce patience.
Once patience has done its work, we will be complete and have everything we
need for a God-filled life.
of the greatest transformative experiences occur in the night seasons of life.
never fuss in the darkness but yield to its process. When the sun rises in the
morning, they are glorious to behold.
praying and praising and be patient.
be surprised by the beauty found on the other side of darkness, when the light
Job 23: 8 Behold, I go forward, but he [God]
is not there,and
backward, but I do not perceive him;on the left hand when he
is working, I do not behold him;he turns to
the right hand, but I do not see him. But heknows the way that I take;
when he hastried me, I will come out as gold.
Psalm 18: 6 But in my
distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me
from his sanctuary; my cry reached his ears.
Psalm 120:1 In my
distress I cried to the Lord, and
He heard me.
Isaiah 50:10 Who
walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon his God.
And yes, there were cars
back then, for those of you who are now wondering how old I am.
There were even TVs back
then, we just didn’t have one.
Every Friday my dad would
grocery shop after work and take me to the
library on his way to the store. I’d search row after row of shelves for books
that I hadn’t read yet, check out the maximum amount allowed (ten, I think) and
read them before the following Friday. This scenario would repeat weekly.
While my friends were
rushing home from school to watch cartoons; Popeye, Looney Tunes, The Three
Stooges and the Little Rascals, I went home to read.
And I couldn’t
Words threaded together,
creating pictures, people and stories have intrigued me as far back as I can
remember. As I read descriptions of places and personalities, I would imagine
them in my mind. I could see it all, the backdrops, settings and what each
person looked like.
I’ve been disappointed more than once by a movie based on a book because what
was on the screen looked like nothing I had created inside my head.
Many a night, when I should
have been asleep, I was under the blankets with a flashlight and a book I
couldn’t put down. There was nothing worse than leaving a good story right in
the middle, to go to school, take out the trash, help Dad in the yard or Mom in
the kitchen and be left wondering the entire time, what was going to happen
By the time I was in middle
school I had a fondness for horse stories; Misty, Black Beauty and My Friend
Flicka, to name just a few. In high school I was reading classics; Robinson
Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, Moby Dick, Call of the Wild, Pilgrims Progress,
Gone With the Wind, The Chronicles of Narnia and the works of Charles Dickens
and Mark Twain.
I’ve had a lifetime love
affair with books and reading was and still is one of my favorite getaways, a
form of relaxation and fun.
It’s hard to be a decent
writer without reading. Because I enjoyed reading so much, I also developed a
fondness for writing.
Putting my thoughts into
words forces my mind to be deliberate about my own opinions, viewpoints and
desires. Seeing my heart written out in black and white give me reason to be
both intentional and reasonable in how I think about life and the myriad of
emotion and events swirling around me. Writing keeps me centered and is my
I’m currently taking a
writer’s course and am being told that reading has changed in America.
Technology and finger tip
access to information, texting, social web pages and constant entertainment has
moved our attention span meter next to zero. The latest generation now reads
and writes in small bites (or should it be bytes), if at all.
“LOL!” (laughing out loud,
for the few who may not know)
“OMW “ (on my way)
“Where R U?”
I’ve been informed that
people don’t read anymore, they scan, scrolling thru web pages on mobile
devices faster than film frames roll in an animated movie.
Writers are being told to
create shorter sentences that are “tight” and have punch, be more attentive to
white space in relation to words on a page and hook people with interest and
excitement in the first paragraph to instantly catch and keep their attention.
While these are good
writing techniques to follow, I admit to being disappointed for the reason they
are being suggested.
Maybe I’m old-school; after
all I grew up without a TV…
But...instead of dumbing
down our writing, how about we teach kids to read again. Really read.
Gather our children around
us on the sofa. Turn off the TV, smart phone and tablet and read a book out
Find time during the day;
at breakfast before school, after dinner or at bedtime, whatever works for the
family schedule, to read.
Start when the kids are
little. Let them fall in love with books.
Statistics show that
children who are read to and who read do better in school and become lifelong
And if that isn’t enough
motivation, some of those readers could become famous authors, publishing book
after made-for-movie book, creating sufficient wealth to take care of you into
your old age.
So read, read, read!
P.S. I hope you didn't just
scan this post but actually read it.