Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Much fruit

The Bible is full of beautiful, encouraging, but also difficult and sometimes bizarre passages. Well, I am sure you all know that :) One of the most important warnings in simple words was urged by the Master himself when He addressed his followers about the vine and the fruit. He told them to stay connected to him if they wanted to be productive and then He added: Apart from Me you can do nothing (John 15:5).

I always thought that was such a radical and strong statement and kind of weird at the same time. Let's face it, there are millions of people who do all kinds of stuff without Him every day. There are millions of people who labor in their own strength and even people who purposely ignore the Lord in their daily business. What exactly does Jesus mean when He says 'apart from Me you can do nothing?' There are people who do everything without Him and to some level have a successful life, right? We might even feel a little jealous from time to time when we see people in the world being very successful while we are struggling to keep our head above water.

I personally believe Jesus' emphasis was not on the 'doing' of stuff, but on the fruit it produces. Does our work bring forth fruit? In other words: is there growth and is there a lasting effect? We can ask ourselves the following questions regularly:
  • Am I putting my energy in things that will be gone next year or in relationships with everlasting value? 
  • Am I investing my money in stuff that will be outdated soon or in programs that build the Kingdom?
  • Am I working for earthly success or to serve others?
Apart from Me you can do nothing. That is not a negative statement, it is a positive promise. It is everything we trust in and hope for! It seals our connection, our friendship and our sonship. We need to be reminded, over and over, that we live and move and exist in Jesus Christ alone. We need to be reminded, over and over again, that knowledge, education, status, or success are not important in the Kingdom, but the fruit we produce certainly is!

Staying connected to the source of life, that will produce a fruitful harvest!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Don't throw away the ticket!

Discouragement, set backs, disappointments, bad press?
Remember why you started this journey, take a look at your ticket...
You will come out victorious!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Blogging buzz....

There is always plenty of writing stuff happening in blogging-land. Please, find below some highlights and interesting news items:
  • The Carolina Christian Writers Conference will be held April 20-21. So, if you're somewhere in the neighborhood, feel free to sign up. Visit the Writers'Conference website for more details.
  • The Coffeehouse for Writers offers interesting courses for writers and bloggers alike. For example: blogging for profit or pleasure, creating characters, promotions 101 etc. Make sure you check it out!
  • Amazon now offers a way for promoting your books through Amazon Author Central. Open your own account today, if you don't already have one, and upload your books and bio. Please check out my page and see how it can be done.
  • If you're experiencing setbacks, discouragement and negative thoughts, please read Rachelle Gardner's post: 6 reasons for writers to be optimistic.
  • For great reviews on Christian books, make sure to visit Christian Book Notes. Owner Terry Delaney reviews a wide variety of books. You can submit your work for reviewing purposes too.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Writing for a better world

To all you faith writers & bloggers, keep up the good work!
Shine your light in your corner of the world.
Don't ever think no one is reading your posts.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Standing firm (2)

In my previous post I wrote about a great faith lesson I learned based on 1 Corinthians 16:13, Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love. It is God who makes us stand firm and it is by faith that we stand firm. We know by faith that God will make us stand firm, even if we don't feel it!

Sometimes I wonder why the Bible makes it sound so easy; standing firm in the faith is everything but easy. When I look around at what is happening in the Christian world I sometimes feel ashamed. People teaching weird messages, churches falling apart, Christians fighting etc. Sometimes it seems everything is being shaken and many are falling. Standing firm in the faith requires determination and focus. Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, So then, brothers, stand firm and hold on to the teachings we passed on to you... In other words, don't add, change or omit anything. Holding on to Biblical truth and teaching is the way to stand firm. Don't be tossed up and down by the waves of new teachings and philosophies.

Even in the Old Testament we can find a solemn warning, If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all (Isaiah 7:9). Standing firm in the faith is not a new calling, it has been there from the beginning. God will help us up when we stumble and hold us up when needed. I hope you may experience this in your walk with Him...

If the Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
[Psalm 37:23-24]

Friday, February 10, 2012

Standing firm (1)

Some of the greatest faith lessons I've learned came from the greetings in the New Testament letters. Whether at the beginning or the end of an epistle, they are always interesting. Sometimes the greeting it is a blessing or hello before digging deeper into all kinds of spiritual stuff and sometimes it is a wrap-up of everything dug up.

So, this week I came to the end of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. Chapter 16:13 says, Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love. One verse, many life lessons to learn. I could write another series of posts on one single verse :) This time however my interest was triggered by the word FIRM. Stand firm in the faith... Surely it is not always easy to stand firm. Paul almost writes it like an afterthought... oh yeah, by the way... stand firm. He makes it sound so easy, but it is easier said than done. The question that came to my mind was: How do we stand firm in the faith, since we see so many fall away?

The answer came quick, I found it at the beginning of the second letter to the Corinthians. 2 Corinthians 1:21 says: Now it is God who makes us and you stand firm in Christ. We may think we will succeed to stand firm by sheer will power or in our own strength, but it is actually God who makes us stand firm. Honestly I do  not always feel that, I sometimes even doubt it and I do feel weak from time to time. Yet, reading and believing this scripture releases the pressure to perform. It is not me, it is God who makes me stand firm. Even standing firm is a matter of trust!

Paul ends his opening chapter with a word of encouragement: it is by faith you stand firm. So, not by physical proof or emotional feelings, but by faith I can stand firm. By believing that what God says is true. I may sometimes feel my knees are trembling or my steps are insecure, but God has my back covered! 

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Psalm of Sorek

Close to the heart of the Father

I wonder
if I will ever find,
the right way to express

That longing in my heart and mind
 a love so pure and fresh

To stay forever in your care
my source of life and laughter

To be with You
anytime and anywhere,
now and forever after

From: Breath of Life, a journey into origin of spirit, soul, and body
Tate Publishing