Your Mouth

Deut 6 7

We’ve heard it said that there are two things that demonstrate what a person really cares about: his checkbook and his calendar. This is definitely a very good point that resonates with most of us I would think. How much money did we spend this week on anything of spiritual value or eternal significance or even for anything other than ourselves? (And if we did give to some noble cause. . .did we do it humbly and privately or feel the need to “sound our trumpet” for the applause of men mentioned in Matthew 6:2?) How much time did we spend earning money, planning how to earn money in our future, talking or thinking about money? And okay, we could say the same for our calendars too. Clearly, as we can see from the general lack of church attendance in our society, a mentality that “church is a place you go to once or twice a week” versus a community of people in whom you are sharing life, and the increasing time demands of any secular activity, for the vast majority of us, our calendars are not going to indicate a priority of God or the church compared to work/school/hobbies/not to mention anything to do with electronic devices. In fact, we live in a world where people get repetitive strain conditions from too much screen time, we have conditions of workaholics, hoarders, internet search histories full of wasted time (or even worse), and the list goes on. Clearly, we often misuse or mindlessly use our checkbook and calendars.   And while this is an excellent lesson to prove the point that we need more decisions/thoughts/actions with God involved with our use of time and money. . . it does seem to overlook one area we have certainly found equally convicting. Our MOUTHS!

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:45, NIV)

This verse reminds us that our words evidence what our hearts and minds are filled with. And if we are intentionally seeking to increase or develop our relationships which God graciously made possible through the gift of His son, Jesus, then we will find our words more filled with His spirit and grace and wisdom. But, not just speaking “kindly” and “politely” and those kinds of things. . .words indicating a care/knowledge/priority in thoughts of eternal significance. The older we get, the more we’ve noticed that there are some people who just stand out because their conversation topics and things they generally/casually talk about are centered around God in some capacity.  When we are at their house for dinner, we are asked about our faith, we hear different things about their church backgrounds and doctrinal thoughts, they tell us about some Creation Science information they ran across recently, and maybe even share books/DVDs with us of a spiritual value. We leave their house having learned something or having thought about something that matters without having heard a word of gossip or complaint. But, this really isn’t typical, is it?

Many of our conversations with Christians look and sound no different than if we were talking to anyone else. We hear/talk about the weather, sports, politics, school, camping, work, and Facebook threads (and whatever those other Social media things are for younger and cooler people than us). Sadly, we hear gossip, slander, anger, whining, and pride on a regular basis too. . .certainly even in church. And, the Christians who stand out as unique are the ones who make it clear that they actually think about God frequently. How sad. Aren’t we asked to meditate on Him daily (Psalm 1:1-3)? And, aren’t we awfully weak in this? We need to improve in this area individually, as families, and as a church. We need our hearts to be filled with God so our conversations naturally overflow with His spirit. We don’t need to have friends over and get out fifteen Bible study tools and sit and discuss Greek and Hebrew translations. We don’t need to talk about scripture itself all the time, and we certainly don’t need to eliminate friendly, relational talk of a variety of interests. But, we do desperately NEED to fill our hearts with more God and less of the world. When we do this, our church family will benefit, and our mouths will overflow with truth and love so that we are not just a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1, NIV). After all, this isn’t a new idea:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  (Deuteronomy 6:4-7, NIV)


–Brian and Jennifer Hall


United in Hope

john 3 17

I remember learning in a college psychology class that the two emotions most commonly selected by people meeting the criteria for clinical depression are guilt and shame. I saw the list that was given out in the assessment, and it included lots of others that I thought might have topped the list. Ones like grief, anger, fear, sadness, despondence, loneliness, rejection, etc. But, the two that were the most common consistently were guilt and shame. At the time I was a little surprised by that just because there were so many choices and they all seemed so “depressing”, but as the years go by, I am more surprised that I was surprised.

That is because guilt and shame are crippling and powerful negative emotions that we all experience. In definition, guilt and shame are a bit separated in the sense that guilt refers to the feeling associated with our behavior while shame is associated with a negative feeling of ourselves. Sin causes both. Because we all sin, we all experience the devastation of both emotions. And in a world where we find ourselves with divisions of race, socioeconomic class, culture, language,  and background. . . let it be known. . .we all experience guilt and shame because we are all guilty and shameful. If there is one thing uniting us all, it is that we are all intrinsically unworthy desperately in need of a savior. There aren’t those who are “really guilty” and those who are a “little guilty”. And even if that were the case, I think I’d want to be the former because in human reasoning, that is where the “man after God’s own heart” falls, and I believe those who recognize their unworthiness also recognize their need for God more. The human race is made up of innately sinful people completely unrighteous and unworthy constantly falling short of our perfect sovereign God.

“As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10, NIV)

“The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:2-3)

But, long before our existence God knew this and had an eternal plan. A plan to send a savior, His begotten son, Jesus.  So, while we experience that guilt and shame, we are also able to experience mercy, forgiveness, and hope. His desire is not to condemn us because of our guilt, but to save us from it. We feel shame because we don’t deserve that love and favor, but despite how we feel about it, it is there for the taking. Always. Again and again.

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved”  (John 3:17, NIV)

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9, NIV)

Just as we are united in the sense that we all sin and experience guilt and shame, we are also able to share forgiveness and hope together. We all have the opportunity to be forgiven by God, but not so we can “feel better”. . . so we can glorify Him. One of the most beautiful ways to do that is to forgive others. Who doesn’t love the story of the Prodigal Son? So, may we seek to live with the mercy of the father and not with the bitterness and pride of the brother. The inheritance that matters is our shared one. And part of loving our giver is sharing the gift with others.  It is worth returning for. It is worth staying for. It is worth learning about. And it alone is the lasting source of hope.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21: 1-4, NASV)


–Jennifer Hall


matt 18 20

We hear all the time that church attendance is down. It is. We could share the statistics, but we don’t need to. If you haven’t heard that, look around you. Church buildings, once central to communities, now stand empty or are used for other purposes. Restaurants, stores, and even more annoyingly, community and kids’ events are now regularly open/held on Sunday mornings without thought. But, why shouldn’t they be if attendance or business doesn’t decrease? And if you aren’t sure from observation alone, there are plenty of statistics out there to satisfy the most analytical of researcher. Home churches have increased in recent years, but even this increase doesn’t begin to make up for the decrease in overall church attendance. This certainly brings several questions such as “Why don’t people attend church?” or “Why have people left the church?”. . .but also. . . “What is the church?”

In our English language and contemporary society, the word “church” generally conjures up ideas of a building. Maybe a white building with a steeple and an organ. Maybe a cathedral, centuries-old with beautiful stained glass. Maybe a megachurch with full band, coffee shop, and million-dollar electronic equipment. Whatever the picture in our minds. . .it is generally far different from the meaning of the Biblical “church” and its references to the church family.

 “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28)

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Matthew 18:20)

“. . .let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

“These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer. . .” (Acts 1:14)

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship. . .All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)

In scripture, the Greek word “ecclesia” refers to the group of believers. . .and clearly the content of scripture indicates that it doesn’t matter where that group meets, but who that group is. We are God’s children united in one church, one body.  We may “attend” a wedding or funeral, but we ARE the church. If we separate from the church, the body is injured. And if we think that church is something we “do” or somewhere we “go”, then we injure the body and minimize its potential. Our church family is our most important family and within it is the way we are called to seek the kingdom and spread the gospel.  If we wonder why people don’t attend church, or don’t do more than show up for a “service” and leave, perhaps we need to look at ourselves and encourage one another to amp it up a bit with a few of these things. Actions can speak louder than words sometimes, and it doesn’t help anyone to simply bemoan the state of society and the lack of church attendance and tell someone they should “come to church”. Instead, let us share it by remembering those who led us and imitate, be on guard, be thankful, teach, admonish, forgive, share, stimulate, encourage, persevere, and prioritize. We love our church, and we love even more the hope of one day being in the kingdom in a perfect, Christ-led body together. That day is ever-approaching. Let us not give it up now.

–Brian and Jennifer Hall

Church History

Colossians 2 8

“History is a set of lies agreed upon.”   -Napoleon Bonaparte

Well, there is some truth there for sure. . . and he’s been gone a long time. . .imagine how many more lies have been decided upon?!

One place where we can for sure see this idea coming into play is within church history. Church history isn’t taught much in schools for a variety of reasons. And, it isn’t taught much in churches for of a variety of reasons. History can be dry and not everyone needs to be a “history buff”, but it is also exciting in many ways. There is some super interesting and incredibly important information there. In it lies the foundations of our spiritual belief systems, Christian practices, and some fascinating facts demonstrating that human-driven beliefs overpowering God-driven instruction is not a “contemporary challenge”. There is nothing new under the sun.

Recently, we purchased a book called, The God of Jesus by Keagan Chandler. This book is clearly written by an individual who has sought to find the needle of truth in the haystack of history, and though we’re not done, it is a helpful resource so far. He challenges the reader that, “. . .the only thing more regrettable than a religious academia which doesn’t care that its most characteristic philosophies are found nowhere in the mouth of Jesus and routinely in the teachings of pagan mystics, is a devoted majority which does not know it at all” (p. 270).

That is so true. The majority of us don’t know the history of our religious philosophies, and for some who know. . .they choose not to care. One interesting piece of church/world history is seen when Chandler reminds us that “Incarnation. . .the assumption of human form by a god is an idea common in religion. . .India and Egypt were especially rich in forms of incarnation. . .Incarnation is found in various phases of Greek religion” (p. 359). Hence. . .a few years later, “Christians” fight amongst themselves, hold a few councils to decide that Jesus, God’s son, must actually be the incarnate God who came to earth as a baby in human form, and later deciding that everyone had better believe that or be willing to die as a blasphemer for saying Jesus is our Messiah but not God himself. It is very interesting to see the gradual assimilation of pagan cultural beliefs infiltrate in just this one area (and there are so many others), and we continue to see this cultural penetration every day in our own lives. If we as the church continue to absorb the traditions and beliefs of everyone around us and not root them solely in God’s word and obedience to Him, then we are certainly not learning much from the lessons of history. You see, history matters. We don’t want to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result or just be hamsters running in a wheel going nowhere.

We can’t cover church history in one day, but we can challenge ourselves to study it. Read. Investigate. Ask others. Grow. Seek to learn. In school and at museums, we learn about things like slavery and the Holocaust so we can understand how wrong that was and to “prevent it from happening again”.  But, do we ever look at the history of our own religion or our own spiritual beliefs with the same intentions. We are flawed. We can’t be in control of creating belief systems or everything will fall apart. We are subjects of His created system. And while He has allowed confusion and problems for a time now. . .a day of perfection is coming for those who He knows and calls where we will understand all things and will no longer be exposed to lies.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians, 2:8, NIV)

“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’” (1 Cor.3:19, NIV)

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.” (Proverbs 3:7, NIV)

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.                   (1 Corinthians 2:4-5, NIV)


-Brian and Jennifer Hall

God Willing

psalm 37 5

“What do you want to do when you grow up?” can be an entertaining enough question to ask a young child if we are looking for an answer that can’t be taken too seriously and a lighthearted conversation starter. For example, our daughter might tell you “a fish” on any given day because “they can swim underwater and I want to swim underwater and see it there”.  Too quickly though, it seems those questions turn into the far more burdensome “What are you doing when you graduate?”, “Which job pays more?”, “How many kids do you want”, “When are you going to get married?”, “Where do you want to live?”, “What do you want to __________”. . .and the list goes on.

We often particularly burden our youth with questions like these it seems at a time when they are trying to make sense of life and the overwhelming array of choices and decisions sweeping over them in a world that interprets life as far more human-driven than God-driven. Even in the church. Even in our families. We have all answered (and to be honest, likely asked) our fair share of questions similar to the above, and in many cases, these questions are asked by Christian friends, church members, and spiritual leaders around us. So, we answer, right? Even if they should know better than to ask those questions in those ways, we have to answer with something more than “I dunno” or our families frown, we feel stupid, or we know they are just going to ask again next week so we might as well spit out something now.  Sometimes the answers might roll off the tongue quite easily.  Sometimes, the answers might be more guarded and careful, hiding some personal or relational turmoil and confusion. And, sometimes. . .very occasionally it seems. . .the answers might actually be honest, beneficial, and edifying to the Christian body in that they come from scriptural ideas and are remotely indicative of an understanding of what it means to live as a follower of Christ versus just doing what we want. Something, like. . .

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21, NIV)


“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9, NIV)

Seriously. It doesn’t really matter what we major in (32%+ of graduates will never even use what they major in anyway), what worldly skills or academic honors we have, how many kids or goats we want, which school/job offers more money, when we think we’ll be ready to get married, what “he” did, what our family says, or what our friends say. It does matter tremendously what God says. Our temporary earthly life gives us so many twists and turns that we need to rely on God for the steps because no path is what we thought it was going to be when we planned for it. If we planned for it. Not now. Not ever. Sometimes the paths we thought were God’s plan turn out to be nonexistent or wrong. Sometimes the paths we wished for or planned for are not God’s plan at all. Remember Abraham? Jonah? David? Joseph?( It doesn’t even matter which Joseph this time, does it?) The point is   . . .God alone knows, and He is not self-seeking and narcissistic like….umm…..all of us a lot of times more than we care to admit it?! He alone is our sovereign Creator and there is absolutely no one else we can trust to know best for us. If we spent even a fraction of the time we spend on things like completing personality tests, FAFSAs, career surveys (last one Jennifer took told her she should be a rabbi or farmer so obviously that was useful), figuring out our love languages, and listening to the always-bountiful opinions of others . . .and instead, invested it in seeking to know God better, love and obey Him . .surely this would be a good thing for us, the entire church body, and our world.

Recently we were ran across Psalm 37. It is a fabulous psalm full of good stuff . . .particularly if you want to be reminded of the fact that you do NOT KNOW and that is not only okay, it is what God desires. Because, He knows. He knows it all . . .so much more than we can understand in this life. And He reminds us of this all throughout His word time and time again. Here are just a few:

“Commit your way to the Lord. Trust also in Him, and HE shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5, NKJV)

 “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23, NKJV)

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42, NIV)

“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” (Luke 9:23-25, NIV)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8, NIV)

We’ve tried to be intentional in teaching our daughter to understand that life decisions aren’t about what we want, what others want for us, or what others do. And so somewhere along the line, we used the phrase “God willing” and explained the concept of James 4 to her. Interestingly, she catches us all the time in our shortcomings in this area. Just the other day, Brian told her goodbye and said, “I’ll see you after work” to which his daughter cheerfully responded, “God willing. Because, you might die today and not come home. Or there might be an emergency like a tornado or our house might burn or Mommy might go to the hospital. . .”  God willing, kid. You are right. You are more right than us sometimes. And God is more right than us all the time. Regardless of if we like it.

If you want some great advice straight from the mouth of none other than the man after God’s own heart, we think you’ll enjoy Psalm 37. God willing.


–Brian and Jennifer Hall


Brian Hall grew up in Michigan and had fun attending FUEL/RYOT/youth camp each summer for all of his years as a youth.
Jennifer Koryta Hall grew up in Indiana and has lots of wonderful memories of FUEL from attending as a camper and counselor for many years (1997-2007). She hasn’t actually been to FUEL since becoming Jennifer Hall, but would love to come back sometime. 

Brian and Jennifer live in Indianapolis, Indiana with their daughter, Emily,  and attend New Covenant Bible Church there. They value their friendships from FUEL and their greater church family.

This Little Light of Mine

John 8 12

It is now officially summer. I love summer. I love the warmth of sun on my skin, the colorful growth and plant life around me, and the sound of voices as people are outside living life. I appreciate the simplicity of walking out my door without dragging a coat, scarf, and layers that never seem to be comfortable no matter what I do, and being able to simply open the door of my car versus brushing it off, warming it up, or on really bad days. . . digging it out. In general, I prefer sweat to shivers or snot (my nose pours this out in anger toward the cold within a few seconds of me being out there usually). I would rather have mosquito bites itch for a few days than itchy, dry skin for months just longing for warm sunshine days to come. Summer has its cons, but it has its pros, and I appreciate them.  As a child I remember dreaming of carefree summer days to come while sitting at uncomfortable desks in sterile classrooms with not even a window or glimpse of the “outside world” in sight. As an adult working 11 hour shifts, during winter months I would drive to work in the dark and get off in the dark, restricting my only sunlight exposure to the occasional view through a hospital hallway. I do not prefer to live this way.

The sunlight has so many benefits. Of course, lying out in the sun for hours in vanity or laziness are bad ideas. Blistering skin is a bad idea. And since anything can be misused, I do not want to condone anyone making unwise choices for skin or physical health this summer on account of this reading. But, just a little research will tell you how our western “indoor” culture is significantly deprived of sunlight in general. Sunlight helps us synthesize Vitamin D which is essential for so many bodily functions I won’t even begin to name them. Sunlight increases oxygen in our blood, lowers blood pressure, and builds the immune system. Sunlight improves our mood. In fact, areas of the world where there is more sunlight compared to cloudy northern climates further from the equator have significantly less diagnoses such as multiple sclerosis, ADHD, mood disorders, sleep disturbances, etc.  There are many known benefits to sunlight, and I find that concept to be quite spiritually relevant.

When I was in college, I remember being paired up with a girl from my college dorm Bible study, and we were asked to come up with the lesson for the following week.  She said her idea was “Let’s talk about light. It comes up a lot in the Bible it seems”. So, we had a week to casually research light references in the Bible we thought and come up with a little lesson of some sort…..and we realized by the middle of the week that we were not going to even touch the tip of the iceberg of what is there in the Bible in one study. Light is contrasted with dark throughout scripture, and darkness or a lack of light is correlated to evil numerous times. The light is good stuff. God’s son is the light. We are to walk in the light. We are to turn from darkness.  So, I can only provide a drop in the bucket of the idea of light here today. . .but here are some things to think about:

“You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going.  (John 12:35, NIV)

 “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12, NIV)

We can be overtaken by darkness and lost. We need to intentionally seek and follow the light. The light has been lovingly and freely given to us by our Creator and sovereign God. We don’t know where we are going if we aren’t following the light of his son, Jesus. And, we aren’t following Jesus if we aren’t living like Jesus lived. If we are followers of Jesus, we are also a source of light to others.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:14, NIV)

Ultimately, we need to identify the contrast between light and dark by believing the light is good and turning away from evil.  We are called to accept the light God has provided through the forgiveness and salvation made possible by the gift of His son, our Messiah. As part of that belief, we are instructed to follow Jesus and in turn bring glory to our Father. Also, by doing this, we shine a light for others who are lost, just waiting for a glimpse of that summer sun on a cloudy, wintry day.

I appreciate so much those who have been a light to me on this earth, and those who have taught me of a day to come. One without tears and mistakes and disappointments. A day so bright we won’t even need the sun at all according to Revelation!  Followers of Jesus long for that day where we can reign together with him in his kingdom, but as we wait for it with open arms, let’s not forget to continually seek the light, love the light, and shine the light.


–Jennifer Hall

Lukewarm Caterpillars

2 Corinthians 5_17

A few weeks ago, we got to experience an up-close view of a bit of a twist on the classic caterpillar to butterfly spiritual analogy. Maybe you’ve heard the classic version in youth group, Bible School, or a devotion book….the idea that we are all new creations if we are Christians. That we start as these creepy, crawly, fuzzy little beings and then as a gift of God, through faith in Christ….voila….we are made completely new into creations of beauty and wonder like a butterfly.

Thanks to our friend, Terri Tschaenn, and her milkweed stash….we have gotten to watch this truly amazing experience of God’s creation several times, and it hasn’t gotten old yet. We’ve gotten to feed those adorably cute little caterpillars as they grow at amazing rates each day. We’ve watched the miraculous chrysalis formation, and we’ve gotten to hold brand new monarch butterflies on our pinky fingers before they fly off. It is amazing. It is beautiful. And, it certainly is representative of the hope of new life and transformation God tells us about in 2 Corinthians 5:17.

But. . .does every caterpillar turn into a butterfly? Hmmm.

Terri told us the unfortunate story of one of her baby caterpillars that accidentally met a predator while she was trying to keep it safe in her school classroom….and….chomp. All gone. No butterfly.  And, recently, we watched our caterpillar which we had been watching grow for several weeks, for some unknown reason, never develop his chrysalis at all. Instead, he slowly wasted away and died. It was rather depressing to watch. He had eaten milkweed like all the rest, had gotten to full size, and had looked “just right” to us from the surface. But, inside….something was wrong. He never experienced the stage of transformation. And, instead of achieving beauty and new life, he died a caterpillar. It is common. It is sad. And, it is also certainly representative of what God tells us about in scripture whether or not it makes for as many Sunday School craft ideas on Pinterest.

The Bible warns us about the Christians who look like Christians, but who haven’t experienced a transformation through repentance and faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. These Christians are lukewarm. Just like the caterpillars who die, they lack something inside. But mind you, these aren’t atheist caterpillars or caterpillars who don’t go to church. These are Christian caterpillars. Ones who look just like us. Ones who go to church with us. Maybe us. They haven’t achieved the transformation of repentance and faith in Christ which leads to obedience. And their demise if they don’t repent? “I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16, NASV).

Truth can hurt, but it matters. It matters because God and Jesus love us. And true love includes speaking honestly and intentionally. It also matters because unless we repent, at the judgment day, we do not become “butterflies” to live eternally with God and his son Jesus in the kingdom of God. The alternative to that option is death. Today, we live in a world telling us that almost any belief imaginable is “Christian”, and it can get quite confusing as we seek to be on the narrow road and not in the lukewarm masses. It requires diligent searching of scripture and faithful prayer on our parts. We cannot rely alone on our teachers, our families, our churches, and traditions of men. We must not just believe “in” God and Jesus, but know what they say and apply those words to our lives. So, if we find ourselves lukewarm and amongst lukewarm believers. . .what does Jesus say to us?

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:19-21, NASV).

Let’s seek and pray to be more than lukewarm this week and to be victorious in Christ.

-Jennifer Koryta Hall



Begins with Love, Ends with…

gentleness-self-control-against-such-things-there-is-no-law-esv copyWe sometimes get the wrong thing in our mind when we think about gentleness or meekness. We associate meekness with timidity or with shyness. Today, we use the word as a negative character quality, but that’s not what Christ or Paul had in mind when calling on us to be meek. Instead, they are calling on us to have a quiet strength that we are capable of holding under control, even under provocation.

James calls on us to receive God’s word with meekness. It’s a central component to our ability to be faithful. Peter also writes that we should be able to convey our hope to others in meekness,  and James tells us we should be living in meekness and wisdom. Our examples should be gentle. Teaching others should be approached with gentleness. Galatians says we can take a soft approach when standing firm in the truth, and this requires self-control. If we are going to stand firm in the truth under pressure while remaining gentle and meek, we have to develop self-control.

The last item listed in the qualities of spiritual fruit is self-control. These qualities begin with love and end with self-control. Love cascades through all of these qualities, and they all require a foundation of self-control. This is a capacity to restrain our own impulses so we might serve God and others. Whether we’re talking about faithfulness, patience, forgiveness, or any other quality of Spirit living, we require self-control. By contrast, the items Paul lists in Galatians as defining worldly living demonstrate a lack of control.

Romans tells us we should be transformed from this world through God’s renewal.  Self-control allows us to overcome the sinful and self-destructive behaviors that can consume a life without control. When Paul says, in Galatians, that we are called to freedom, we are freed from the bonds created by worldly living, but we can’t grow this self-control by ourselves. We have to accept help from others. As we rejoice together and we sorrow together, we should also be helping each other grow. Ephesians tells us we are to work together to grow in maturity and be more like Christ. Self-control has to be self-contained, but it does not have to grow alone.

-Katie Beth Fletcher

Submit Your Ways to God

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Do you ever find yourself thinking “I’ll believe it when I see it?”  It’s easy to slip into the mindset of doubt. We live in a broken world, and we may have gone through painful experiences that cause us to lose our trust in others.  For this reason, faithfulness, a fruit of the Spirit, can be a challenging trait to possess. Faithfulness comes from a place of trust and loyalty. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is a confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  As a Christian, it is important to be faithful to God. It is one thing to simply believe in Him, but another to be faithful to Him. When we are truly faithful to God, this shapes the way we live. Faithfulness requires us to submit our ways to God.

Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” We are to be faithful to God, because He is faithful to us.  In the Bible, the story of Abraham demonstrates the importance of faithfulness. Abraham and his wife Sarah struggled to trust God, but learned the value of faithfulness when they submitted to Him.  For example, Abraham and Sarah waited many years for God to fulfill His promise of giving them a son. Because of her lack of faith, Sarah insisted upon Hagar, her maid, giving birth to her son. This resulted in pain and conflict. However, when Abraham and Sarah put their faith in God, Sarah was able to give birth to Isaac despite being past childbearing age.  Ultimately, the story of Abraham shows how God blesses those who are faithful and trust in His plans.

So, how do we grow in our faithfulness?  We can grow in our faithfulness by having a personal relationship with God. If we are truly faithful to Him and obey His commands, this will be evident in our lives.  My challenge to you is this: Think about the ways you show your faithfulness to God. Are there things that are getting in the way of your faithfulness? What areas of your life have you not given over to Him? Through spending time in prayer, ask God to make these things clear to you, so that He can grow you in your faithfulness.

-Katie-Beth Fletcher

Kind and Good

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Some have referred to kindness and goodness as the twin fruits. Kindness and goodness are so closely related that sometimes it is not easy to distinguish between them. A kind person is also a good person; a good person is by nature a kind person. Both of these characteristics stem from love. Some have said that patience is suffering love; kindness is compassionate love; and goodness is ministering love.

Kindness is more about our attitude and goodness is more about the things we do for others.  Some people are born with a kind, gentle personality. This may come natural to them. But others have to lean on the power of the Holy Spirit to help them be nice.

These characteristics which are produced in us by the Holy Spirit have to do with our relationships to others. We usually think of kindness as an expression of love from one person to another, and of goodness as a quality of being pure.  It is striking that parents are forever telling their children to “be good,” but they never need to suggest the opposite to them. Being “bad” seems to come naturally.

Without the Holy Spirit within us, our nature is inclined toward that which is evil and bad. But the Holy Spirit produces in us kindness and goodness, helping us to minister to the world with the love of Jesus. What the world needs is Jesus—that means more love, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and caring generosity.

Katie-Beth Fletcher

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