Archive | fruit of the spirit RSS feed for this section

22 women have taught me, what?

14 Nov

Mum, that ‘mothers will forget their children.’ Isaiah 49:15-16. It is not a question in the original Hebrew, but a Statement.

 

walkers, past speakers, those who sang, sing this, as sirens toward me, your voices still speak, softly

Marla

Mona Leo

Song of Songs 8:5-6 ‘Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealous is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. 7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he[would be utterly despised’

Elaine

Colossians 4:5 b ‘make the most of every opportunity.’

Kathy H

I failed you, thus, for me at that time

If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable.

 

Barbara, a reflection on enduring love, even in unfaithfulness. Hosea 11:8 ‘How can I give you up, Ephraim? … My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.’

 

Priscilla, healing from Psalm 126, ‘When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy…’

 

Pepper, my dog, unconditional love, Proverbs 19: 22a ‘What a man desires is unfailing love…’

 

Home grown daughters,

Sarah,

B-Beth

Dear

Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (Eccl. 4:9-12, NLT)

 

Susan, my sister 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

 

 

Others, my adopted, ‘hand picked’ daughters

April

Alex

Lauren

Heather

Ben

Charlotte

Lydia

Michael

Sarah

http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0402.htm

and

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to son ship. (daughter ship!!) And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

 

A short Charlie comment: blank checks means you are and I am and Priscilla is ‘all in’ with you as this is this Spirit’s leading’ and Jesus’ teaching-you are our brothers and sisters; our children.

 

From London 2014

 

 

 

Advertisements

what women have taught me, part 1

23 Oct

women have taught me, what?

 

Mum, that ‘mothers will forget their children.’ Isaiah 49:15-16. It is not a question in the original Hebrew, but a Statement.

 

Barbara, a reflection on enduring love, even in unfaithfulness. Hosea 11:8 ‘How can I give you up, Ephraim? … My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.’

 

Priscilla, healing from Psalm 126, ‘When the Lord restored the fortunes of[a] Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy…’

 

Pepper, my dog, unconditional love, Proverbs 19: 22a ‘What a man desires is unfailing love…’

Meditation 14 part one, fruit

11 Sep

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.  Galatians 5:22-26

As I finish this blog series on fruit of the Spirit, I can’t stop thinking of a friend who recently shared how she dances Salsa. As an experienced Salsa dancer, she tries to dance with beginners who already know the basic steps. Debbie does not dance with novices. She is not dancing to teach the elemental basics. She wants to lead by example; dance with someone who plans and desires to grow. She wants to ‘keep in step’ with a generous principle: dance with all type, all levels, of Salsa dancers. But they need to know the basics first.

As a trope to end the series, the analogy of ‘salsa dancing’ to fruit of the Spirit clarifies. There is one dance, yet many aspects, many steps, to the dance’s fruit.  Joy can result.  Peace can come from a dance well done; goodness in honouring the effort of another. Dancing has to be under the self’s control, in gentleness.  This is a basic, and the only qualities in Paul’s list that are join by an ‘and’ step. Control then is gentle. It cannot be forced as a method of expression. And a good Salsa dancer may enter a competition and need to forbear in the face competition in order to grow.

But one has to first love to dance. Love is the first fruit quality mentioned because love is a first fruit.  Love is not ‘the’ fruit; it’s ‘a’ fruit. A step.  A first step. Love is part of all that follows… But there are other steps, other fruit, which follows this first step.  And as joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness follow, they all deepen love. Deeply.   And deeply coloured fruit tastes different.  Looks different.  And is different.

Real Zombies were referenced in a previous blog in this series. My point in meditation 8 is that zombies are Real. They are the flesh eating figures all around us. They can grow inside, as the real life people of ‘The Bling Ring’ and ‘The Act of Killing’ illustrate.  They are the Walking Dead, the unthinking, reacting desire controlled solely by ‘the’ flesh, by any overwhelming desire. Cain was the first Real Zombie. In Genesis 4:7, as God speaks to him: ‘If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.His was the first murderer. Others have followed in his steps. Desire needs control. Spirit control. Flesh desires… what? Simply put, more flesh.  More bling. More killing. More sex. More love. Yes, if one aspect of Spirit fruit, such as ‘love,’ is desired solely, it can also become ‘the flesh.’  Love needs self-control, peace, gentleness. All aspects of the Spirit.  And if I don’t dance steps by the Spirit, I can become a Real Zombie. Permanent. Like Cain, I walk as a zombie; not in Spirit steps.Then I can grow conceited and only dance with like minded dancers.  I can provoke others by dancing so beautifully I purpose to draw attention only to myself; I can   envy the others’ joy in their good Salsa dancing. Then I am out of step. Becoming like a zombie. A Real Zombie. A Cain.

But if the Spirit leads, I step with Him, gently, under his control. In love. I dance with Him, Spirit led. The Spirit is my, our, lead dancer. He leads. I follow. We dance.

 

meditation 13: Caravaggio, the ‘peace’ of open hands, fruit of the Spirit

2 Sep

ImageImage

Of the number of Caravaggio’s in Rome, three specific works illustrate peace, and all at a moment of a death. First, above, the Calling of St. Paul. Paul’s eyes are closed; his hands open and empty. His old self, his fleshly self, is dying. His face is peaceful; no grimace. He is open to God’s call; the Lord’s being; not his old, flesh:Saul.

Second,is the image of the deposition of Christ. Here, Jesus’ hands are open, a receiver of death, and a death on the cross. He is empty, Yet -and yet- soon all will fill with the hope of a bodily Resurrection.

Finally, there is the three piece work, It is a three piece altar work, not pictured here,’The Calling of St. Matthew’. Imagine. In the first and last panels of the Call, Matthew, in death, his left hand now opens. Initially, in the first panel, it was closed on his coins from his tax collecting. There, he was a young man, head down, not looking at Jesus’ call, Jesus’ hand beckoning him. Openly, now in peace, a receiver of eternal life. He is receiving. What? ‘(A better resurrection.’ Eternal community with the Father, Son and Spirit. ( Hebrews11:35) With open hands, Matthew, in death, has peace. Peace, a fruit of Spirit.

Endings as beginnings: remorse in ‘Harry Potter’ series

30 Aug

At the end of the first book of the J. K. Rowling series ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ Hagrid cries to Harry, It’s -all -my – ruddy -fault!’…
‘Hagrid !’ said Harry, shocked to see Hagrid shaking with grief and remorse…’
Rowling here, at the end of the first book, introduces the compelling narrative philosophy of her series: remorse. This trope ‘Remorse’ is the overarching theme of the Harry Potter series. The word is a thread through the series, a hidden key in each book. How does Rowling use and define remorse?
Remorse is a choice open to all the major characters Harry encounters, including himself. It is what makes wizards muggle like and humans wizards. Snape, (or rather Professor Snape) Voldemort, Hagrid, Ron and Dumbledore, among others, are offered remorse. Harry pointively offers Tom Riddle this choice at the end of their final duel. Voldemort refuses. He has long ceased being Tom Riddle, being human. He cannot and will not ‘try’ remorse. Such a choice, and its acceptance, Rowling herself ( through the character of Hermione) points out in the chapter ‘The Ghoul in the Pajamas” (The Deathly Hallows) can destroy earthly life. Remorse is the only magic that can break a horcuxes’ power in or for a life. But without remorse, or deep, deep sorrow, all life in and beyond earthly existence is lost. Life can only begin when we grieve, grieve at a lost. A son; a spouse, a school, a heart.
Great art, music, painting and writing, have ends embedded in their beginnings. Shakespeare’s Prospero drops an iamb in his last speech in ‘The Tempest.’ There is remorse in leaving his magic, his island, writing and the spell of creation. Something ends with his new beginning. Carravaggio’s ‘The Call of St. Matthew’ shows three images, three paintings of the apostle’s life: the call has the movement from a young man holding, grasping coins to an older man’s hands open, embracing death at his end. Opposites, ends in beginnings; the dropping of a word’s beat, grasping and holding at life’s beginnings, then releasing and emptying at its end: this is deep remorse, the movement from an enslavement to a freedom that hurts, deeply, even to death. Opposites together. All spiritual fruit has seeds of the Spirit’s fruit in its opposition. Remorse is a love, an empathic love of the other. It is a fruit, a love. An end product. The tears of remorse waters. Hagrid cries remorseful tears; Harry forgives; a photography album of pictures of Harry’s Mum and Dad enters Harry’s hands. Harry can not speak. He is loved. And he now can love others beyond himself.
Remorse, closes his mouth. We understand. Hagrid understands too. He feels; he is loved. His remorse saved him. It can also free us.

meditations part 2: the MACS teacher, passion and coveting

29 Aug

In ‘Silence of the Lambs’ Hannibal Lecter takes Clarice Starling to Rome:
HL: ‘First principles Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself ? What is its nature? …
He covets. That is his nature…we begin by coveting what we see every day.’
We see what we are passionate about every day. The MACS teacher sees youth that are reflections of a deep desire: young people in colleges, experiencing new life. A choice. Possible passions. Their passions though is their students and Their success; the students’ own felt successes in life. (Teachers have other passions, I am sure, but…)
…but this is what and whom the MACS teacher & staff persons choose to see everyday of their life. It is what All-all-see in the summer, at a beach, at rest, on vacation. It is passion.)
And, and …if it were the only seen thing? Then ‘we/I covet and want possession and ownership. That was me; what i was becoming. Coveting is control. Total Control. Then the simple becomes deeply simple: I would become pure passion, pure coveting itself. No balance. No boundary. One simply becomes the other. Passion becomes coveting. A good desire destroys.
Simply destroys. Simply.
It is easy to cross the line between passion and coveting. I have and still am stepping on that emotional tightrope between coveting and passion. It is my nature. When I do step over, I over eat; I buy sports jerseys for myself. I rage, rage against injustice. Anger overwhelms. And, and…if it gets real bad, i am angry. quiet and angry. All the time. My only way back is to pray. I pray the Jesus prayer ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ He is a living God; He knows …
He simply knows. I know that…
Every MACS teacher I have served with loved their kids ; all of them. And they were in balance and passionate and true lovers. I failed them, sometimes well and sometime poorly. But I loved them, these MACS teachers, because of their passion. And they were and are better than I will ever be.
My UK readers and others, please understand this: they -these MACs staff and teachers- were wonders. I think of them every day. In love. With passion.

meditation 11: bad fruit ‘and the like’

19 Aug

‘and’; a word that combines connects and communicates multiple relationships, ideas and works. ‘Ands’ build.

Paul in his letter to Galatians describes ‘bad’ fruit as desires of the flesh. He uses multiple ‘ands’ to build the image of fleshy desires, what I am calling here bad fruit. Paul calls these desires acts:

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factionsand envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

All of the fleshly desires above work together. And they work in such a powerful manner that they become life: ‘I warn you, as I did before, that those who live…’ The people of the church in Galatia were living in the flesh ‘before’ this letter; Paul is warning them again. Why? Because the flesh and its desires are so strong. They grow as one. They act internally and externally. How? Fleshly desires grow and build together with ‘ands.’ Impurity and debauchery; idolatry and; factions and envy witchcraft; orgies, and the like.’ And the like. Like calls to like; desire call to other desires; addictions to other overwhelming desires. One desire leads to another and another and another. Each then builds into a series of connecting ‘acts.’ And theses are acts of the flesh, the body, mind and heart, the community of our self work together to infuse and become our spirit. Multiple desires multiply into acts. And these acts of thought and desire then become flesh. A feed-back circle/loop that forms spiritual life. All these desires and their acts then reform one central, controlling and transforming desire. An uber desire.The German word ‘uber’ is a cognate of the Latin word for ‘super’ and the Greek word ‘huper.’ Two languages joined together to form a word beyond a superman; a top gun; a best of the best. This German phrase is our Tower of Babel. On Tweeter @Uber describes their tweeter self as: ‘Everyone’s Private Driver.’ And/or, everyone’s idol; or their uber desire. What then is our uber desire, our driver?

It is: to become another’s desire; to be desired as a desire itself. An ultimate. As,

How many followers do you have?

In the video game ‘Star Wars Jedi Knight’ a gamer can become invincible, an uber Jedi.

As being the centre, the life of the party.

Or being the ultimate underdog, the weak defeating the strong.

The richest gal who dies with the most toys.

The prettiest boy at the party

The thinnest.

Sexiest. Uber person. Beyond human. Desire itself. Real Bad fruit.

So, bad fruit, fleshy desires? How can I live with them without their becoming my life? Can I escape the loop? Get off the roundabout?

My” How to” comes from Paul’s ‘So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.’ Slow down, Charles. Walk. Don’t react. Don’t run, dance, don’t get over excited. Don’t let the immediate thought, worry, desire control your actions. Walk. Meditate on the Word as you walk. His Spirit will be ‘gentleness and self-control’ within you. (Paul’s first and only use ‘and’ in his qualities list Spirit fruit: ‘gentleness and self-control.’ These are the only spiritual qualities Paul has working directly together.) Why are only these two qualities joined by ‘and’ when Paul has so many infinite fleshy qualities –‘and the like’ joined together?

Because I believe His gentleness works with our self-control to ‘make me great.’ (Psalm 18: 35) For it is, by the Spirit, how He stoops down into my life, that I can walk away from the flesh, my flesh. He desires great, fruit. Fruit of Him, His Spirit, His gentleness. Me. Built by and with the Spirit. Walking.

meditation 9: fruit of the spirit, goodness

6 Aug

meditation 9:  fruit of the spirit, goodness

 What is goodness? Can anyone be ‘good?’ Any act?  Any purpose?

As I look at myself, for own motives, loves, looking and coveting, speaking solely for my own heart and self, my answer is “No, not good, not me.”

I can say this because I have glimpses of goodness. From others.  Brief compelling can’t stop thinking about glimpses. My heart replays these vary rare views over and over, over and over. They are so rare; I don’t recognise them at first. Here is a recent one.

Priscilla, my wife, is goodness. Yes, at times she is angry, forgetful, and full of self. But at small, very key life moments, she rises. Her goodness empowered by the spirit shines as a new moon in a clear night sky, or a moving piece of music. She, immediately and without thought, is’ good.’ It is her first instinct.

In mid June I saw an advert for a local Proms concert. St. Jude’s church in Golders Green was to have Sir Willard White sing. Priscilla knew him over 40 years ago at a small church in NYC, The Bronx Household of Faith. She always spoke fondly of him and was excited to see that he was in the UK. I booked two of the last three tickets available and Priscilla called the church to leave a message.Can you please tell Mr White that Priscilla from the Bronx Household of Faith will be at the concert? She would love to say ‘hello.’Graciously, the church and the person Priscilla spoke to assured her that they would leave him her contact information.

We heard nothing in the week between her call and the event. Very excited that Friday, in a slight rain, we arrived to a packed house. When we picked up our tickets, Priscilla again explained to a kind steward how she knew Sir Willard. The event staff listened attentively and assured her Sir Willard would get her hand written note. Ours seats were in the first row off to the side. We went in.‘Perfect ‘was Priscilla’s response to our seats: she could see him; and he might recognise her, though people change.

Sir Willard came on; he had not changed significantly except for the greying of age in his hair. He looked well and sang with power and zeal. He opened with a number of German classical pieces that shared the subject of death. He sang, at times with real power. The interval came.  He and his accompanist left the stage.

As a little girl, Priscilla needed vanilla ice cream to cool her excitement. Returning to her, I spoke to another steward. Yes, Sir Willard would leave the stage at the end of the performance and he would ensure she could have a brief moment with him.

The second act began. My sense of the evening was that of a man singing of death in a place of risen celebration, a church. He seemed a performer, not a worshipper of anything, even his own performance. Needless to say, the evening closed. Priscilla waited and told me how he sang ‘My Wild Irish Rose’ to her in New York before she knew me. The Head steward waited with us at the exit. Sir Willard never appeared. He ducked out to avoid her, my Priscilla.

 And here, here, is where I saw goodness. Myself, I was angry Not even a ‘hello.’ He purposely avoided her, as though she was a stalker. In the Head Steward’s word to me: ‘really, he could use the fans; the work.’  Standing by the exit door till the last possible moment Priscilla said ‘Thank you.’ As we walked to our transport she said, ‘Church must have hurt him. He must be hurting deeply.’I asked her is she was hurting; wasn’t she angry? How insensitive…Priscilla said looking down, ‘You don’t know what he has been though. I have my memory of his singing for me.’How generous; how good.

 

 

Twitter: @charlesosewalt

 

Website:

www.charlesosewalt.com

 

meditation 7, kind & gentle fruit of the Spirit: “… is love, joy, peace, patience, kndness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

2 Jul

meditation: 7 His fruit, gentle kindness
I am not a kind or gentle person. I break things. The crafts I build are always ugly. Once I made a hand puppet for an education class and I was the only person whose work very one laughed at. (My best friend in the class called my puppet “Road kill.”) Years of rejection; a failed marriage; work among people in an underserved area of a global city has made me hard internally. I mask it by appearing friendly. I seem to be a happy extrovert, but I am a cynical introvert. Why? Being with people drains me. And that is the test for introverts and extroverts: if being with people gives you energy, then you are an extrovert; if you are drained, intro.
So my Lord gave me fruit, he gave me a spirit filled wife. She is kind, gentle. She listens to people; she smiles at children; Priscilla stops, stoops down and smells, sees flowers. She sees and feels. I decided to ask her to marry me when see gave me a piece of music, Frederick Delius “Florida Suite.” The “Daybreak” section of this work is me. Priscilla, in kindness, saw Charles the unfeeling, the insensitive. I still have the music. It’s nice to be seen.
There is one fruit of the Spirit with multiple vines from it. Kindness is one of these vines. Gentleness is another. For me they entwined together. I want to be kind. I want to be gentle. That’s why I choose Psalm 18: 35 “You stoop down to make me great.” as a banner for my blog. I want to be like Him; to stoop into life. I desire His Great Spirit in, with, for my life. Daybreak.
It’s ironic that this translation from the NIV is no longer used. The Hebrew word for the phrase “stoop down” is a hard translate. It can literally mean “lowliness” in Young’s Literal translation; or “gentleness” in the NAS or “your care” in the New Living. The NIV presently has it as “your help.” I prefer the image of stooping. I need stooping; Help is not enough; I can’t assist with anything. Care is inadequate; I need gentle kindness. I need a greater stooping into-into-my insides, seeing and not being disgusted, and gently reforming me into fruit. A Kind, gentle fruit.
His first miracle was to make water into wine; water into fruit. He didn’t want to at the Wedding feast of Cana, but asked by his mother, Jesus stooped into this couple’s celebration and created fruit
Stoop gently, kindly, lovingly Lord. Stoop.

Aside

Meditation 5: fruits of the spirit, patience In 1996

25 Jun

Meditation 5: fruits of the spirit, patience

In 1996 my wife, Priscilla had great plans to return to her birthplace, Galway. Her grandfather had survived the sinking of the Titanic and married a Galway girl in America. Neither of them ever wanted to return but their children did. Plans were made for this momentous visit to Ireland along with three of her ten siblings and her Mum.

It was not to be for Priscilla. Her Lupus kicked in with a vengeance and getting out of bed was journey enough in the ’90s.

So this year we planned to go. Excited, Priscilla spoke of walking to her home on St. John’s Terrace; knocking on neighbours’ doors; being invited in; having tea, viewing old photographs.

With over 50 years having passed since she was there, every word she spoke sunk my heart further. How could a neighbour be still alive? And recognise her? I didn’t see it. All I saw was disappointment for my lovely wife of thirty years. I said nothing and prepared to rescue her sorrows.

At the second door Priscilla knocked on, a lady called Sally answered. Sally said nothing. She cried. Priscilla cried. Not a word was spoken.

I stood with my mouth open, unable to move. Thank God our daughter Sarah was with us and had the presence of mind to take the picture you see here.

Sally invited us in for tea. She’d recognised Priscilla immediately because she’s the image of her best friend, Marian. Priscilla’s mum. Sally took out some old photos to show us and gave us some to take away. Some were of Eugene Daly: Priscilla’s grandfather who survived the Titanic.

I can have faith in big things: Jesus died for me; He loves me; Priscilla and my children love me. But the desires of others? Their visions and beliefs?

Priscilla knew by the Spirit someone would be there. In the Spirit Sally waited for 17 years for someone to return from the Joyce family. They saw and believed.

In Luke 2 Anna and Simeon wait with the Spirit for a glimpse of the Messiah before they passed from this world. The Spirit was with, on and within them.

Patiently, they waited and waited. They held true to the vision they had been given; then moved by the Spirit, they saw. As prophets they spoke and speak to us now of what He gave them to see. Priscilla held true to a vision; Sally held to an image; I-I had nothing in my hand.

Praise him that now I have a touch from him: a patient touch of a God who sees and gives vision glimpses even to those to impatient to stop & see. Even to me.

Waiting, it is enough to see as the Spirit sees.

20130820-114010.jpg

20130820-114515.jpg