Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Wrong Kind of Love

"Wait a second, I thought love was a good thing. Can you really have the wrong kind of love?" It is easy to think that love is a good thing and therefore you can't have the wrong kind of love. Here are three ways that we can be loving the wrong thing.

1. We can be loving the wrong thing. We might love to have a nice tidy house but to get that we might be sacrificing relationships with our family. We might be picky and opinionated to those around us. So we are loving the neat house and hurting our relationships.

2. We can be loving and not willing to let go. As I pondered love and some of the things I love, one of the things I love is the location of where we live. For a week or two we had a discussion about moving to another part of the city. I struggled with that because it meant moving not the area where we are living. I realised that I was loving our location and holding it too tightly. I needed to be willing to give that up. It was a struggle but I realised my love was in the wrong place.

3. We can be loving with the wrong motives. Thing about the tidy house about. It might be that you look deep at that issue and look at the heart and realise that the reason for that love is so that it makes you look good. Your heart has pride. Your love has the wrong motives.

The things we love can become an idol. An idol is anything that takes the place of God. We can take a good thing and turn it into an idol.

How do we have the Right Kind of Love? In order to bear the fruit of love, we need to have the right kind of love.

1. Remember that we are commanded to love God and love others. Keep asking yourself the questions, "Am I loving God? Does this show love to others? Am I loving others?" Love God and people before loving things.

"We love because he first loved us." I John 4:19 (ESV)

2. Search your heart to see what is motivating your love. We need love from a pure heart. Our love can easily come from the wrong motivates. Our love should be motivated by God's love, to glorify God, and to reflect God's love.

Let us grow in love. Let us love God and those around us.

Do you have the wrong kind of love in your life?

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Pruning to Grow - John 15

There are hundreds of DIY projects on Pinterest, YouTube and numerous other places on the internet.

Have you ever done a DIY project that looked nothing like what you wanted?

I remember once I cut my bangs and they were cut on an angle so I had to have my part on the side. I think that might have been the last time I cut my own hair. That was a failed DIY project.

The vinedresser is not a DIY project. We are in the hands of a profession. He knows vines, he knows what branches to take away, he knows what to do to the branches all with the goal that they will bear more fruit.

Last month we began in John 15 and just got as far as the first five words.

Jesus says, "my Father is the vinedresser." John 15:1 (ESV) I love the choice of this word, vinedresser.  It has a depth of understanding of vines. It is more than just a hobby.

What does the vinedresser do? He takes away the branches that do not bear fruit. Those branches are drawing nutrients away from the branches that are bearing fruit.

"every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." John 15:2 (ESV) Pruning is done to encourage growth and more fruit.

As I picture this, I see a loving Father looking carefully at the branches, analysing the branches, and then trimming away the dead bits, the parts that are draining the nutrients. I see love and gentleness displayed all the with the goal that we the branches will bear more fruit. That is God with us, gentle and loving. The purpose of the pruning is that we will bear more fruit.

This year as we go through A Fruitful Year, John 15 is a foundational passage. This passage sets the understanding of how we bear more fruit. It is through abiding, staying with the vine, and pruning.

What are some of the things that God is pruning out of your life? As I have been writing and working on A Fruitful Year, I have looked at my own heart. This month the focus has been love. I have looked at my own heart and seen selfishness, wrong motives, and a few other things. Those are the things that need to be pruned so I can bear more fruit.

So as you look in your own heart, what do you see that needs to be pruned?


Friday, February 16, 2018

That's it, I quit.

Just three weeks into the new year those were the words I said. "That's it, I quit. Three weeks of working on one of my goals for the year and I was ready to quit. It was not going the way I planned. I didn't see the results I wanted. It was not easy. It was restricting my life I was ready to quit.

But I knew I couldn't just quit. I took some time to just reflect on the goal I had set and what was happening.

Just because it is not going the way you want, doesn't mean you quit the goal.

Just because it is hard,  doesn't mean you quit the goal.

Just because you don't see the results you want, doesn't mean you quit the goal.

I looked at the goal that I was ready to quit. I wrote about why I had written that as a goal. What was the motivation in the first place? That helped me to see that I really didn't want to quit.

I really needed to look at the heart issues of why I wanted to quit. Heart issues are the things that are going on inside. That was not pretty.

When I looked at those heart issues, I saw that I wanted to quit because I didn't want to deny myself, this goal required a bit of extra planning, I was envious of others. I saw that I was lazy, I was envious, and I was self-indulgent. I told you it wasn't pretty. That is not a reason to quit.

I knew that I needed to change the heart. I need to be willing to deny myself. I needed to be diligent. I also realised that this was a goal that was bigger than just me doing it on my own. It was something that was going to require God's help.

After a bit of journaling and reflection, I was renewed and ready to work on that goal. I knew it would be hard and might take some extra planning. I was not going to quit.

What do you do when you are ready to quit?


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

I am an alien.

I am an alien. No, I am not green and have antennas. I am a foreigner. I live in a country that is not my home country. I am a stranger. The dictionary defines alien as, "belonging to, characteristic of, or constituting another and very different place, society, or person; strange."

Foreigner is one of the identity boxes that I tick. When I need to fill out forms, my race is often one that I have to pause as it doesn't find the typical list given. Being a foreigner can be difficult at times.

My accent is not from here. I have words that I struggle to pronounce. I have to pause and think what is this called. I have a few words that I don't think my mouth was made to pronounce it the way it is said here -- aluminium and garage are two of those words. I will say that I have been told I have a good accent. I have had people tell me they like my accent. I had years to work on that accent but it is not an accent from where I live.

My thinking is different. It might not be noticed. I find it slight at times that I view things differently. I have had to adjust how I write the date. I am used to the week on a calendar beginning on Sunday and that recently got me in trouble as I looked at the calendar and scheduled something thinking it was the date for Saturday but it was Sunday. In the end it all worked out. I realised that even after years here I still think differently.

When I lived in Asia, I looked like a foreigner. My hair was a different colour. My skin was whiter and my nose was bigger. I was a foreigner. Here I blend in a bit more.

As I reflected on my foreigner identify, I was thinking about how I can make that positive. It felt like a negative which was more my feeling than the feelings of those around me. I have to say I have felt welcomed and loved here but at times it is tiring to be a foreigner. It is hard being different.

This can be my reminder that I am called to be a foreigner here on earth. I am to be living different. My accent should reflect God. My thinking should be eternal focused.

So while I might struggle with the foreigner identity, it is a reminder of how I should be living life. As a Christian, I am a foreigner. My citizenship is in heaven and someday I will be home.

Do you have an identity that you can view positively? Share that with me in the comments.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

If you are not going to track your goal, why do it?

Track your progress. Know what you are doing toward reaching the goal.

We need to set goals. If we don't have a goal how do we know what we are working towards. I really do think you need to set a goal. Goals help to give us action. So you need to set goals.

What do you do after you set a goal? Hopefully you have created a plan of action on how you are going to work towards that goal. What about tracking the progress of the goal? Do you have a plan on how you are going to track progress?

Tracking progress can encourage us to keep working towards the goal. If we are focusing just on achieving the goal we might miss the progress which can be as important as the goal.

Tracking progress can give us an indication on how we are moving towards reaching that goal. If you have created a SMART goal, it is measurable and it has a time frame. Tracking the progress will help you to see if you need to work a bit harder, faster or maybe even that you can slow down a bit.

Tracking progress can help us to evaluate the goal. If we know the progress, we are making we will know how achievable the goal is. In some of the goals progress can be as important as completion.

So how do you track your goals?

It will depend on the goal. When I wrote my goals this year, next to the goal I wrote how I would track the goal. I prefer pen and paper and something that I will have easy access to and will keep through the year. Most of my goals are tracked in my planner. Some are shown on the calendar. Some are lists in the back of my planner. I also try to do a monthly wrap-up touching on some of the key goals here on my blog. You can read my January review here.

You need to find a way to track your goals that works for you and for your goals. I like pen and paper but that might not be the way you work. You might have a chart to goal as you progress through the goal. You might take photos of projects as they are finished. Find a way to track your goals that works for you.

Your goals are personal. Your tracking is personal.

Track your goals. Show your progress. Know your progress.

How do you track your goals? In the comments give me some of the creative ways you track them.


Monday, February 5, 2018

3 Reasons We are Commanded to Love

If you are following along with A Fruitful Year, you have already done your planning and preparation and now February is when we begin to look at specific fruits of the Spirit. Looking at what that means and how we can walk in the Spirit with that character quality. February's topic was introduced here.

As I pondered the character quality of love, I spent time reading I John, I Corinthians 13, and John 15:1-17. In John 15:12 Jesus commands us to "love one another". That is not the first time that has been commanded. Remember the lawyer that came to Jesus in Matthew 22:34-40. He asks which is the greatest commandment. Jesus' response is, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your should and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself." (Matthew 22:37-39 ESV)

Why are we commanded to love? God views our love as important and something that we need to do. He has commanded us to love.

1. Love does not come naturally. Naturally we are selfish, look out for ourselves, do it our way, defend ourselves, we don't love. We do not naturally love. We need to be commanded to love.

2. Love is something we can do. Just because it does not come naturally does not mean that it is not something that we can do. Love doesn't just happen. Love is an action. Love is something that we can learn. Love is sacrifice, thinking of others, and so much more. Love involves the mind and intellect it is not just an emotion. We can love.

3. Love is the basis for all other character qualities. Jesus said that this is the great and first commandment. I Corinthians 13:13 says that, "the great of these is love." Love is listed first in the Fruit of the Spirit. Love is the foundation for our character qualities. If we are loving, we will be kind. If we are loving, we will be honest.

These are just some of the reasons why God has commanded us to love him and to love others. Our love to God should be in response to his love to us. Our love to others should flow from God's love to us. Our obedience to God's commands show that we love him.

Are you obeying the command to love God and love your neighbour?


Thursday, February 1, 2018

January - End of the Month

In past years it has been helpful to me to just review what has happened in the month and how I worked towards my goals. I shared my goals here.

I have been following the 90 Day Bible reading program. It is fast paced but it gives me good overview and I see themes and things repeated. As I am reading, I have written down some verses that are just great to pray or use in worship. Yesterday as I was finishing reading I Chronicles this passage was just one to pause and use in a time of worship.

I use my planner both for planning, recording various things that happen during the day, and also for tracking my goals. I am a paper and person. This is my first year to really use PowerSheets. I had the six month last year but didn't use it. PowerSheets is helping me to track my goals.

I struggled this with the goal of losing weight. I won't bore you with all the struggles but I will say that it has given me an opportunity to look at the heart issues that were causing this struggles. I will share a bit more about that later. That goal was not as easy as I thought though I didn't think it would be that easy.

I want to grow in relationships. That takes a bit of planning and time. I was blessed to have a cup of coffee and time of prayer with one friend. We enjoyed dinner and games with other friends. I need to come up with some new meals for company. Any ideas?

I have been sorting through Home Educating things. I managed to get rid of quite a bit of it in January. I still have two boxes that I want to get rid of. I have a cleaning schedule and the weekly things are getting done but some of the things that are not weekly seem to get missed.

I read eight books in January. I am working to read a variety of things this year -- Christian living, Biblical counselling, classics, books from my shelves, current books, books about missions, productivity books, and more. I said it was a variety of reading.

One of the books that I read was Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. This book challenged me to focus a bit and also to think about what is distracting. I will share a bit more about this.

January was a good start to the year. I am looking forward to more of A Fruitful Year and trust that each you will grow this year.

How was your January? Have you made progress on your goals.



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