twenty-four/seven

because life is so daily … and eternity is so 4/ever

Fruit Inspection

If it’s been a while since I’ve been to a funeral, I find myself saying things like:

Life Is Too Short To:

  • eat cheap chocolate,
  • do too much housework, or
  • worry about the number on the scales.

But today I was privileged to attend a family funeral. A terrific Christian woman.

Funerals like this often:

  • cause me to think about what’s going to be said about me at my funeral,
  • make me realize how short life really is, and
  • spur me to value relationships more deeply.

As I ponder what might be said at my funeral, I think of the Fruit of the Spirit I have been blogging about and posting on Facebook. Will love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control be mentioned? Will the decisions I made in everyday life reflect a life committed to Jesus – with bushels full of fruit at the end of my stay on planet Earth? If so, I have to be making those decisions NOW – not merely when I see the end in sight.

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As I think about how brief our time on this earth is, my Life Is Too Short list changes. Today I’m thinking:

Life Is Too Short To:

  • be bitter,
  • not extend or ask  forgiveness,
  • be mean,
  • be unproductive, or
  • spend time on (or worry about) things that really don’t matter.

I’m sure the list could go on. But those are the first things that come to mind.

Truth is, none of us knows just how long – or short – the length of our life. And maybe that’s a good thing. If I knew, I would probably procrastinate or stress. Neither of which are productive.

Maybe I’m just to focus on walking in God’s Spirit (as I talked about a couple weeks ago), and trust that God will produce a life that He desired for me when He created me. Then as I follow God’s leading in my everyday decisions, that funeral thing might take care of itself.

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Fruit Production

Love – Joy – Peace – Patience – Kindness – Goodness – Gentleness – Faithfulness – Self Control

After the fruit discussion last week, I’ve been thinking much more about fruit. The Fruit of the Spirit, that is.

So I re-read Galatian 5. Verses 16-18 sets us up that there are two ways to live: living by the Spirit OR living by the desires of the sinful nature. I get that. We either live God’s way OR our way (which is pretty much sinful because we are human!)

BUT, what I noticed is, that when describing what each of those lives might look like, the wording is different.  In describing life lived our own way, it lists acts, deeds, works (depending on the Bible version you are using.) And those acts/deeds/works aren’t pretty.

However, when describing what life lived GOD’S way looks like, it reads, “But the fruit of the Spirit is .  .  .” And that list of fruit is very attractive.

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So……..we have acts of the flesh; but fruit of the Spirit. Why not acts of the flesh and acts of the Spirit?

Fruit is something that is produced. And Galatians 5 teaches us that living God’s way will produce these traits in our life. Maybe not rocket science to you – but that was a great revelation to me. I don’t have to go around working hard at love, joy, peace, patience . . . (and the rest of the good list). What I have to do is take the next step where God is leading.

That might mean a step of forgiveness; a step of  keep-mouth-shut; a step of help someone in need; a step to mediate in a strained relationship; a step to let others know God loves them. Those are all things that would honor God. And when we honor God by walking according to His Spirit, then all sort of appealing fruit pops out in our lives.

This is good news. I don’t have to wake up everyday and say, “How can I show love?” “How can I show joy?” “How in the world do I exhibit self-control?” If I find myself irritated at someone, I don’t have to muster up some gentleness. I simply make a choice that would please God in that moment – and He will turn it into gentleness (or love or kindness or patience.) I can’t push fruit out. God will produce it.

This is amazing news for me. What do you think? Leave a comment and share your ideas.

Love – Joy – Peace – Patience – Kindness – Goodness – Gentleness – Faithfulness – Self Control

To further consider the fruit that God produces in our lives, check out Karen Morerod Writer on Facebook. Monday through Thursday I post about one of the fruit. Last week was love. This week is joy. I welcome your comments on the FB posts too. And, if you like the page, the post will appear in your newsfeed.  (And interacting via comments on the FB posts will ensure better visibility in your newsfeed – at least that’s what FB tells us!)

Craving Fruit

I didn’t used to be a fruit lover. Oh, I’d eat a couple apples a year – mainly in season, with caramel dip! And eating strawberries was just an excuse to cover something in chocolate. But when I decided it was time for that ridiculousness to be over, and to be more deliberate about what I put in my mouth, I increased my consumption of fruit, as well as started eating it naked. The fruit, that is.

No more dip. Just plain, juicy, fresh fruit.

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That’s when the weird thing happened.

I started craving fruit. I panicked if I ran out. I paid wa-a-a-a-y too much for strawberries in the winter. I made special trips to the store just to get some. This was not like me. And then I discovered that, as a general rule, what you eat a lot of, your body ends up craving. (Hence the reason I craved chocolate and Diet Coke for a long time!)

The Bible talks about fruit.

The Fruit of the Spirit. You can read about it in Galatians 5:16-26. This is what I take away from reading that passage:

  • We are either living by the Spirit OR living to satisfy our own desires – not both ways at the same time.
  • Living by the Spirit means doing things God’s way.
  • Living to our own desires means living – well,  um…our way.
  • We choose which way we will live.
  • What we choose determines what our life looks like.

This scripture passage lists character traits of  what our life looks like for either way we choose. The first list – living to please ourselves – isn’t very pretty. The second list – living God’s way following the Holy Spirit – is far more admirable, satisfying, and leads to more peace and purpose in life.

Oh yeah, and living for ourselves is so-o-o-o-o much easier. BUT, once we make decision after decision after decision to follow God’s way, it becomes easier; and we sort of crave it, we desire to live that way, we learn better how to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (That’s the living God’s way list.)

What are you going to choose? I know from experience eating more fruit caused me to desire more of it. And, choosing to live by the Holy Spirit’s leading produces outcomes (fruit!) in my life that makes me desire to continue following Him.

To continue our discussion of the fruit of the Spirit, starting February 3rd, I will make four Facebook posts each week, dealing with one characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit each week. You can find these posts at Karen Morerod Writer on Facebook. (If you “like” my page, you will receive these posts in your newsfeed each day. Or you can simply go to the page Monday-Thursday.)

What has been your experience of following God’s way – even when it’s been hard? Leave a comment and share what you’ve learned.

And don’t forget to check the Facebook page every day!

Are You Thankful For What You Know?

As I look around me, I see situations that just don’t make sense. I ask questions like: Why do thirty-year-olds have to die? Why didn’t God prevent the terrible tragedy in the Philippines? Why do good, God-loving people suffer with disease? Why does God allow elderly sick people to continue here on this earth when they so desperately want to “just go home”?

These are questions to which I just have to say, “I don’t know.” And, I’m not sure we will ever know the answer to these questions this side of Heaven. Yet they still want to occupy space in our thoughts. And even though I seldom ask, “Why?” – I find I often get caught up in the things I don’t know for certain.

But, what if we chose to dwell on the things we do know about God? Things like: God promises to always be with us; God promises strength to face whatever comes; God promises to provide for His children; and God has made a way for us to be free from all pain and suffering in a place called Heaven.

So this Thanksgiving I’m going to focus on what I know about God – instead of what I don’t know.

What about you? Are you ready to focus on and be thankful for what you know about God instead of all those nagging unknowns? Start Thanksgiving early and leave a comment about what you are thankful for. It never hurts to practice.

 

 

Change to Faith

CHANGE? SACRIFICE? WHO ME? Have you been thinking about that since last week’s blog?

I have – a lot!

So…since last week I have embarked on an adventure that involves change and sacrifice, all with a desire to allow God the place He really deserves in my life. The specific changes and sacrifices aren’t really important now, but what IS important is what I’m learning through this.

I figured you’d want to know what that is, so here it is:

When I take a step of faith to do something, ummm….shall we say, uncomfortable, it’s that step that signals to God I’m serious. And with that step (action) God’s power and strength begins to overcome all my fears and apprehensions about the whole deal.

The best picture I know of this is when God was leading thousands of Israelites to the land in which He had promised they could settle – but they had to cross the Jordan River at flood stage.

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But God gave the plan: the priests carrying God’s ark of the covenant were to be the first ones to cross over. Did I mention the Jordan was at flood stage? God told them when the priests foot touched the waters, the waters would stop. I did mention the part about it being flooded?

If I was one of the priests the people were pushing to the front of the line, I think I might have been wishing I’d chosen a different occupation. BUT – the directives from God were clear: step foot onto the flooded river.

Someone could get hurt in a situation like that.

The Bible records: Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. (I did mention that, didn’t I?) Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing.  (Joshua 3:15-16)

The moment the priests took a step of faith, God worked.

That’s how I see this change issue. We have to do something different if we’re desiring different outcomes in our life. And if we want God’s help, often we have to take the first bold step into a flooded river – or some other messy situation – to let God know we are serious. And I believe He takes delight in helping us as He sees our faith in action.

So – we can stay on the shore, be safe, be unchanged, stay in bondage – or we can risk change, take a step of faith, and experience God’s power and everything He wants us to be.

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I leave you with these thoughts:

Facing Change

     Look with hope  for

  firm stepping  stones

across the rugged  terrain

           of change.

Stones, lovingly placed by

our Lord–a personalized 

      pathway in  answer

          to your cries. 

 Charlotte Adelsperger ©  2006

 (Used by permission from my friend who is a speaker/author and lives in Overland Park, KS whose poetry has appeared ALL OVER because she takes steps of faith and dares to do what God says!)

Any changes you need to make? Share your thoughts about making those changes by clicking the “Leave a comment” button at the top of the page.

And the MERRY CHRISTMAS Winner is . . .

Thanks to all who wished me Merry Christmas! I’m sure you’re waiting as patiently as a kid on Christmas Eve to see who won THIRTY DAYS TO GLORY  by my friend, Kathy Nickerson.

But, first, I want to share something with you that was inspired by our sermon this past Sunday at church. The thought went something like this, “Does my day look like I got out of bed with the attitude, ‘Take a number today, God.’?”

Our pastor was encouraging us to put God first in all things. And that has always been a challenge for me. Maybe you’re like me: you love God; you want to do what He wants you to do; you want to share His love with others…….but something happens in the space between our good intentions and our daily schedule.

Wouldn’t the approaching Christmas season be a terrific time to start determining to wake up saying, “God, you’re first in line today” ? I suspicion the problem with that is that I would have to actually change some things and sacrifice somewhere along the way.

Change? AND sacrifice? Why is that so hard?

Right now I am contemplating a serious decision that would mean both of those – change AND sacrifice. I can tell you right now MY biggest reason it’s hard to do: I’m afraid I’ll fail. I fear I won’t follow through.

God kept everyone of His promises to me – even the promise of sending His Son to walk on this earth, to heal and love on people, and eventually die for us. And I can’t manage to commit to at least try and sacrifice to put God first? Add in the factor that God promises to help me and still shows grace when I fail, it seems I don’t have a good reason for not committing to putting God first.

How about you? Where is God in your line-up for the day? What paralyzes you from doing all you want to for God? It’s good to compare notes with each other!

Now for the long-awaited news. Here is me….

And the winner is . . .

And the winner is . . .

I put on my favorite Christmas red sweater, grabbed my favorite scarf (which I knitted myself in junior high school!), and found the official “hat” to draw the name from – and pulled the winner:

BRIAN COLLINGE

Brian, if you will email your address to: karenmorerod@gmail.com, I will have CrossRiver Media send your book out right away!

Thanks, again to all who participated. And don’t forget to leave some comments below about our discussion above!

Pre-Christmas Give Away!

Challenging myself last week to have a more joyous, peaceful heart this Christmas excited me. Nope, I don’t have my decorations out yet – but I am excited to give a gift; and it’s still October!

My friend, Kathy Nickerson, has just released (as in hot off the press!) her book, THIRTY DAYS TO GLORY.

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MY FRIEND!

THE BOOK!

THE BOOK!

The setting is during December, and Catherine Benson loves Christmas. She also has a noble endeavor on her mind. (Sort of like me having a joyful Christmas). Here’s the scoop:

THIRTY DAYS TO GLORY is the story of Catherine Benson, an elderly widow who wants to do one great thing before she dies. And about Elmer Grigsby, a WWII vet who just wants to stay seriously drunk . Inside their stories are universal questions about  purpose, destiny, relationships, and the things that ultimately matter in life.

I found THIRTY DAYS dared to confront real life issues – in a way we can identify. AND give us a glimpse into the issues other people face. I was challenged by Catherine! And not just to love Christmas. But she gave me a challenge to consider the difference I could make in someone’s life.

You can enter a drawing for a FREE copy of THIRTY DAYS TO GLORY just by wishing me MERRY CHRISTMAS in the comments below.

Wish me MERRY CHRISTMAS here or on my KAREN MOREROD WRITER FACEBOOK page and you will be entered into the drawing.

Deadline for the merry wishes is MIDNIGHT, Saturday, November 2.

(That’s MIDNIGHT, BEFORE we set our clocks back – don’t forget Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend!)

If you want to order the book yourself, check out: www.amazon.comwww.CrossRiverMedia.com;  or your local bookstore.

To close, here is my favorite verse from Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus: The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (LUKE 2:20)

The shepherds spent a short time with Jesus – and it led to glorifying and praising God. Spending time with Jesus does the same for us. It leads us into praise and worship of our Heavenly Father.

Isn’t that the challenge of the busy, upcoming season? Spending time with Jesus. Make sure that’s on your Christmas list!

DON’T FORGET: Wish me Merry Christmas!     216

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like . . . WHAT?!

WOW! It’s been so long since I’ve blogged that it’s almost Christmas!

Well – not really. Not in my world anyway. I’m not like a friend of mine. She started putting her Christmas tree up a couple weeks ago. “Started” being a key word here. It’s totally a process for her. And she’ll spend the next several weeks decorating. By the time she’s enjoyed her scenery for a month, I’ll be thinking about getting my Christmas décor from the attic. (I’m contemplating hiring her to do my house.)

And the stores! Oh my. Some are in full swing here the end of October. Can I be honest? Usually this bugs me. It bugs me that the other day I was in the store – in my flip-flops – and I actually heard Walking in a Winter Wonderland. Sheesh!

I’ll admit I’m one of those who complains about the commercialization of Christmas. That everyone is just out to make a buck from one of the greatest events in the history of forever – the birth of the Savior of this world. It just doesn’t seem right. I seriously doubt Black Friday, elbow to elbow shopping , and a store refund line as long as the Israelites crossing the Red Sea is what God had in mind when He sent Jesus to this earth. I do believe the angels said something like, “I bring you good news of great joy” and “…peace to men….”

And while some think the good news is the sale price on a flat screen TV, I think God had other things in mind.

HOWEVER . . . I’m going to try a different approach this year. All my complaining about the retail business hasn’t changed their habits. And it hasn’t added to my joy either. So, I wonder what would happen if I thought Wow! Isn’t it great these stores are so enthusiastic about the birth of Jesus? Look at the preparations being made.

By now you’re asking what bubble I live in.

BUT – what if I tried not to complain (as much)?

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I’ve come to the conclusion I can have whatever attitude I choose.  It doesn’t matter if the stores’ Christmas merchandise sits alongside the summer swimming clearance items. It really doesn’t matter if I have a number of friends who are excited about the season and start decorating while we’re having our last heat wave. And it really doesn’t matter if I am the last one trying to get mine up before our Christmas dinner.

What does matter is that my heart is preparing for Jesus. That my life exemplifies that it has been changed by the birth of Jesus and the salvation that He brought me. What does matter is that my words, actions, and attitudes reflect the peace and joy that should be evident in my life as a Believer in Jesus Christ.

You wanna join me? Let me know how you plan on keeping the joy of Jesus during the celebration of His birth.

SPEAKING OF CHRISTMAS . . .

Next week I have a special offer to inspire you this Christmas. It’s a new book whose story takes place at Christmas time. It’s written by a friend of mine and I’m totally intrigued now at chapter seven. I can almost promise it will inspire you – which is one of her goals in writing it. MORE NEXT WEEK! AND A CHANCE TO WIN A FREE BOOK!

Don’t forget to leave your comment on your plans to be joyful this Christmas! (oohhh….I love the early start I’m getting on this! I just might get my decorations out!)

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The Finished Project: YOU

Touring a small, quaint town on vacation, we drove by a church. Two hearses were parked out front. Cars lined the street and people filed in.

“That’s a big funeral for such a small town,” I said.

Hubby replied, “Well, whoever it was, was liked; and everyone wanted to come see the finished product.”

He said this rather lightheartedly so I wondered if he meant they wanted to see the final “presentation” of their friend – but also because he tells me often, “When people file past my casket, don’t let them say, ‘Oh, he looks so natural,’ because there is nothing natural about it.”

Whatever he meant, I thought, “That’s right. When you are in your casket – or your urn, whatever your choice – that’s the finished product. Your life here on earth is over. You can’t add any more to your biography.

And that leads me to several thoughts:

What will your finished project look like?

Nope – not what the undertaker did to make you look natural; but what will your finished story tell? It’s too late to add another scene, chapter, or even a p.s. What you’ve done is all that you’ll get to do. No more “I’m going to….” or “When things slow down….,” or “Some day I’ll….” It’s over. Final. The. End.

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And that was all there was to life?

Well, not if you believe that there is a life after our earthly existence. Not if you believe that those who trust in Jesus will reign forever with Him through eternity. That you can live forever on the other side of your earthly existence. You can believe what you want; and after our funeral we’ll know if what we believed was true. Personally, I’m trusting in the God who sent His Son Jesus to die so I can live forever.

About that finished project . . .

After the sobering thought that my story would be all written as I lay at the funeral home, I thought, Maybe if I write my story correctly, the story WILL continue. If I invest in the lives of others while I still can. If I speak to encourage and motivate others. If I pour out what I have – while I can…..maybe my life will live on in how other lives were changed because of me.

I know I’ve got some chapters left to write.

By the Grace of Jonah

I needed smacked up side the head.

Recently, I received an email from my friend to whom I had lamented about some recent issues. These problems were on-going and long-going. I was tired of it! She ended her email with “Spend some time with Jesus.” I only had five minutes that morning before leaving for the day. But I thought I’ll see what God can do with five minutes. I grabbed my Bible and headed to my porch swing.

This was one of those not-highly-recommended sort of Bible reading procedures: I let the Bible fall open wherever. Jonah Two. Really? That was the best God could do this morning?

But I started reading. Scene Two here in Jonah, Jonah is already in the belly of the fish. And he is praying, “In my distress I called to the Lord…”

Oh Jonah, I know what you mean. I haven’t been inside of a fish but I know about distress.  Then as Jonah outlined how everything was washing over him, I thought Ditto for me. 

But a verse later it happened – the smack up side the head.  And not with seaweed – with Jonah’s next statement. In verse eight he says, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”

Forfeit the grace that could be mine?

I’d never thought about it like that; but that’s exactly what I felt like.

I hadn’t felt much grace lately because I had been clinging to the idol of my own knowledge, trying to find direction for life from within myself, and then wondering why nothing was changing.

God has an endless amount of grace, free to all. But it seems that those who actually experience it are those who seek it, those who ask for it. And those who aren’t out chasing all the other “idols” in an attempt to find a lasting strength outside of the providence of  God.

Then in verse nine, Jonah declared, “But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good” (Jonah 2:9).

Then I realized, it‘s hard to catch grace on the run.

I need to sacrifice my time, and especially my frantic searching for answers of my own, in order to seek God and receive His grace. Yeah, God can, in a quick moment, give guidance. But consistently not seeking Him – living life on the run – makes it hard to receive His grace and guidance.

Sometimes it just takes a smack upside the head.

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