Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How He Loves His Children

 Want to hear an unpopular opinion?
 God doesn't love everyone.

 Before claiming i'm some sort of heretic that has no place making such a claim when the Bible clearly states that, "God is love," (1 John 4:8) please hear me out. What better place can we learn of God's characteristics than in the Bible? And when i look at the Bible, i see a doting Father, a caring Provider, and a loving Friend. He is those things. I also see a very jealous and wrathful God. For instance, i see Him ordering the Levites to draw their swords against the rest of Israel, mercilessly and violently killing their own brothers and friends (Exodus 32).
 He is jealous, and in His jealousy for His people, He will destroy anything that tries to come between the Church and Himself. A husband may turn to violent rage against the man who seduces and leads astray his wife, perhaps especially so if the other man happened to have once been his best friend. God hates evil and wickedness because it draws us away from Him, but He also hates the wicked who would turn us from Him because He is jealous.

 Psalm 2 starts by telling us that the kings and rulers have set themselves up against God's people. God's response isn't, "I love these wicked kings and will have compassion for them, and I shall make a covenant with them to prosper them." No, it actually says, instead, "He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision."

 Let me open this one up real quick; "He who sits in the heavens (God) laughs..."
 God sees them plotting against His people, and it entertains Him not because His people are being attacked, but because the nations rage and the people "...plot in vain." He sees them planning the destruction of Israel, and it makes Him laugh. He sees it, and gets a kick out of the fact that they plot in vain. Knowing their plans and efforts have already failed, He laughs.
 "... the Lord holds them in derision."
 Here's the first definition of derision: "contemptuous ridicule or mockery." God is contemptuous of them. He mocks these people. With contempt. He points His finger and snickers, saying, basically, "You're losing." And, again, this actually somewhat entertains God to know that those who would corrupt His people have failed miserably and pathetically.
 This isn't love towards these rulers and kings, so how do we justify God being love if He is the same God in the Old and New Covenants? Because He loves His people, that's how that question resolves. He doesn't want anyone to die (Ezekiel 18), but He is particular towards Israel.

"The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man." (Psalm 5:5-6)
Here we have the statement that God hates all evildoers, and He abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful. Hates is a simple enough word. Sure, we can muddy it up with translations enough to where it means something like "favors less," but really, in this context, it means nothing other than intention of violence. What's more, abhorrence is hard to get lost in translation; it means to regard someone with disgust. I know what it's like to abhor someone quite well; i was embittered and resentful towards someone at one point that seeing them make my stomach turn, my heart rate to spike, my hands to tremble. It was unhealthy, but this is what it means to have abhorred them. And God abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.

 He hates. And violently.

 He loved the tribes of Israel. Greatly. They're the ones He chose to be His. But look a little closer, and you'll see that He picked the tribe of Levi out of them. He favored them to the point that He made them His cohanim, His priests. This was His favored tribe (favor implying favoritism). Israel was to be God's favorite country, Levi to be His favorite of the tribes, and Moses specifically to be His favorite Levite.
 He picked David from His brothers because He was a man after God's own heart; a man who, though he might stumble pretty badly, he would try, and he would try, and he would try, because he loved God. God favored David from his brothers.
 It was asked how God loved Israel, and He says, "Is not Esau Jacob's brother? Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated." (Micah 1)
 He distinguished between brothers which He loved and which He hated, and judged not by their father's actions but by theirs. This passage later speaks an entirely resentful view of Esau by God; Esau's country was destroyed and his legacy left to jackals, unclean and scavenging beasts. And should Edom have rebuilt, God says that He would have torn it back down. In fact, God says they are, "the wicked country," and "the people with whom the Lord is angry forever."

 And to really set things off, it would seem that we have a part to play in His disposition towards us.
 The modern Church may shriek at the thought, but our works are what actually define how God sees us, not just our faith. We are justified by faith, yes, but we are glorified by God by our works of faith. As example, i'll use David again; it was his desire to serve God that God saw and picked him for. It was the Levites' willingness to do anything for God that He chose them for. It was Job's faithfulness and devotion that made God say, "Him!" It was Joshua and Caleb's ferocity and reverence that God chose them to lead Israel for. It was Abraham's subjection that God made Him father of nations for. It was Isaiah's fervency in saying, "Here I am, Lord! Send me!" It was Daniel's staying strong in faith by acting on his faith that got him a death sentence--and favor.

 He loves, and His favoritism towards us is dependent on our humility before Him. And it's our works and sacrifices by faith that gain us that favor.
 Not only this, it is our works that make us loved or hated by God. If we are bloodthirsty, deceitful, wicked, evil, He will simply hate us. If we follow His law, obey His commandments, love as Christ loves, forgive, and get over "self," we will be loved by Him.
 He loves all of His children. And we are told by John that those who are not His children, the ones that do not practice righteousness, are children of the devil.

 And here i want to address a more personal matter; some think that, because one holds to these views, i am devoid of joy, or that i'm not as happy as i could be because i'm not seeing the positive side of things.
 One would be hard-pressed to find someone more enthralled with life than myself; i look at things, even tree leaves, pebbles, clouds, insects, animals; these things are beautiful and brilliant, and to think that God could -and by justice should- make my life a living Hell, mutilate me, annihilate me, and cause my life to slowly and painfully wither away, yet He blesses me, and lets me talk to Him, and He listens. How futile are possessions when you have a source of joy such as this! How exuberant this fascination makes me! How giddy am i knowing that the Maker of all things sees me, knows me, cares about me, loves me, calls me His!

Saturday, June 14, 2014


It's time to unpack some stuff from my phone. Little jotted notes and phrases and quotes that have come to me over the past few months are stacking up and cluttering it. So here are a few.
If we are incapable of discerning anything of the Spirit, we must ask ourselves if we have the Spirit.
Often we find ourselves asking God, "What do You want from me?"
The answer is very simple. "Everything."
We were entrusted with the Law, but we broke and disfigured it.
We were entrusted with the prophets, but we broke and disfigured them.
We were entrusted with Christ, but we broke and disfigured Him.
We are entrusted with His blood, and it restores everything.
There has been war between Heaven and Hell. Jesus came to implant the world with millions of people as far from the ways and appearances of this world as He is; millions of Jesuses; soldiers who would assault the gates of Hell.
Only now, as we approach the time when we are to be glorified, instead of saying, "Take this cup if You will, but Your will be done," these soldiers turn to lukewarm pacifism and say, "God wouldn't expect a sacrifice of me when Jesus already sacrificed it all."
Christianity is the only belief system that encourages fidelity to the spouse as fidelity towards God;husbands, love your wives; to even look at another woman with lust is adultery; to break either of these rules of faithfulness to the spouse is sin and, with sin, unfaithfulness to God.
Non-profits usually equal non-prophets.
The greater the threat from the outside, the stronger and thicker the walls must be. Make the home safer by building stronger, more fortified walls as society makes its attacks.
Those who live with the most dangerous faith rest in the safest death.
The need for consecration is a reflection of the need for temperance. God does not want abusers of His grace, but people who will receive it with control and the patience to extend it to others. This is the reason for consecration is such and important element in such a flippant world.
There is no way to know God and live the same way. To believe that you're His son, or that what He says about you is true means there is no doubt, not giving way to self, no submission to the world, no struggle-free clashes with sin.
If thought and consciousness are actually mere atoms that are in our mind, moving and firing in nerves, can those same atoms, freed from the cage of the human skull, not become part of something infinitely greater?
Water your garden with blood*
Minimalists realized something true to music that is also true to conversation; as much is said in silence as is said in sound.
It's the subtle, immemorable words that convince us to believe what we once doubted, not the memorable ones. The forgettable ones stick with us as seeds that germinate as our own ideas, though we know not that they were planted as quotes we so easily overlook.
I've been reluctant, yet God has been more than faithful, bestowing blessing on top of blessing, and grace upon grace upon grace until i can stand it no longer. My mentality forces the idea that a gift must be repaid, and i can't repay Him, because He gave me more than i have to give. It's impossible. If i don't, He still blesses me all the more. What, then, is to be done? I can't escape His blessings.
Love is jealousy. That's why God is jealous for us; He loves us. Jealousy is hating anything that is trying to come between us and our greatest love. He hates sin.
When we love God, we can't help but to hate the world because it's trying to come between us and Him. When we love the world, we hate God because He's trying to come between us and it.
We will hate the one and love the other.
Getting saved, we become like empty warehouses; all has been wiped clean. As we mature spiritually, we fill the warehouse with theologies and philosophies which are as our wares. We must be careful to keep only the worthwhile ones, ridding our shelves of the worthless ones. Only God can sort through it and, with His Spirit, discern in us which are profitable and which are a waste of space.**
There is a terrible moment when the Bible ceases to fit our lives.
It is then that our lives must fit the Bible.
And then a bunch of cheesy rhymes fill much of the remaining notes.

*This came to me in the middle of the night, and i never have figured out the meaning . . . But it sounds interesting.

**Over the past year, maybe year-and-a-half, my "theology" has changed drastically. I was of the type who always said "God is love," which is true, He really is. But my view of God was shaped more by modern theologies than by the Bible itself; God is unchanging. He is exactly today as He was before He said, "Let there be...", and He will be the same after the end of the age. God did not change when Jesus was born, God was simply with us. The same God that cursed nations, mocked rulers, hated the violent, purged Israel of all uncleanness, swore vengeance, shakes the earth at the sound of His voice; this is the same God we serve today--and He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Eyes On The Giver, Not The Gift

 Today suffered a rather weighty realization. I say suffered because, frankly, it was far from pleasant. It's as another of those things mentioned in the prior post that hurts. It burns, but it cleans too, like hot water. It must hurt if it does good. Gold is refined in a furnace, iron must be heated before it can be formed, and we are no exception; if we are to bend to the will of God, He must first allow us to suffer. After all, how can the Perfector of our faith work if we're cold and hard? He must set us in the kiln and immerse (read: baptize) us in the fire, and only then can the Perfector perfect.

 The aforementioned conclusion was this: God tests us.
 Yes, we've all heard the accounts of people being tested by God, such as Job, David, S/Paul (and Ananias for that matter), Abraham, and so many more, the list being quite overshadowed by God's very own Son.  And He tests us as well. It may not be of Biblical proportions, such as the laying down of one's own son as Abraham endured, losing family and health and wealth and pretty much everything as Job experienced. It might not even be the trials the nation of Israel suffered in Egypt as they waited for God's promise to be fulfilled, seeing Pharaoh time and time again deny them their freedom, his heart apparently hardened by God Himself. But that doesn't mean it's any less real. And He has promises for us. Sometimes we don't see those promises come to pass, but that doesn't mean they don't come to pass, it simply means we must do our part in lifting up the ancient gates, so that the King of Glory may enter in.

 Back to the Israelites in Egypt thing, as it seems to be the most apropos thing we can relate to (in this instance at least).
 God promised them freedom--not just freedom; He mentions a land, that is, the Promised Land. But it is said rather specifically that God told Moses in chapter four, "...I will harden [Pharaoh's] heart so that he will not let the people go."
 It almost looks like God is teasing these people with promises He will withhold. Not to say God isn't allowed to tease us. He is God after all.
 Firstly, God shows Moses how He's going to convince people to have faith, and that's by turning Moses' staff into a snake. "This," He says, "is so that they may believe..." God shows Moses another sign and says that the second is in case everyone doesn't believe the first. And then a third. The reason there were ten signs is so that they would be wholly without excuse. God was giving a sign so they'd believe. For the sake of those who wouldn't believe the first, He hardened the heart of Pharaoh long enough to perform a second. And a third. And... a tenth. And to think, i stop saying "Bless you" at three sneezes.
 He had set in front of them something they greatly desired, but before He gave it to them, He laid some stumbling blocks. That is, things that would ensure they would focus on Him instead of getting out of Egypt.
 Nine times, the people most likely became disheartened, thinking they would never go free. But those who held on till the tenth were rewarded with so much more than they were promised (err, after a substantial misadventure they caused themselves).

 My point is this: God tests us. He sometimes sets in front of us everything we've ever looked for. And He takes it away.
 He places before us things that may become idols, and then He says, "No." Hardens Pharaoh's heart again.
 Then comes that hope again--"No."
 And again.
 This isn't to tease us. It's to ensure we focus on Him, not on the thing He's offering. So that we will know He is God, that He is in control, that we have nothing but Him as our solid source of any hope either in this life or the next, He takes away the thing He lets us see. "Look at me," He is essentially saying, "Not the promised thing."
 Stop looking at potential idols. Stop looking at wealth, stop looking at a career, stop looking at a relationship, stop looking at your health even. Look at Him. Look upon the snake that was raised up in the wilderness. Eyes up! Heavenward! A horizontal gaze will never get us over a mountain, but only looking up.
 He tests us. Lets us see things, then takes them away, not for the sake of taking them away but for the sake of readjusting our eyes so that, when/if we do get it (if He has promised us, we have the full assurance of faith that He will make it come to pass!), He is still our focus, because we know it can be taken away.

 I pray we learn to walk with the mantra of a Heavenward gaze.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Truth Hurts

 There are many times that the Bible makes me mad. Really mad, even. There are times i want to slam it shut and put it on a shelf and not read from it again. It offends me. It throws some pretty heavy stones right at my head, and i have little room to move out of the way. Other books don't ruffle my feathers this much. Sure, there is a lot of peace, hope and the like to be found between its covers. But there's also some stuff that just makes me squirm.
 Take, for instance, the book of Psalms, one of the greatest sources of inspiration for modern poets, a one-hundred-and-fifty-chapter wellspring of comfort and joy.
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
 That's Psalm 1:1-3.
 I read that and think, You know, maybe i'm this blessed fellow. Maybe i'm this man, this one who delights in the law of the Lord, who meditates on it and grows and flourishes and becomes firm in foundation and yielding a great harv--
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
 Ow. That would be verse four.
 See, the Old Testament, which the apostles called Scripture, is God-breathed and, therefore, "is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness..." (2 Timothy 3:16) Basically, in other words, it is for us. It is an examination tool, and a method of correction and instruction. And it hurts. Because, as a human, i am evil. Horribly evil. My heart is deceitfully wicked. Every inclination of the thoughts of my heart are only evil all the time (apparently the amount of wickedness within us is sufficient to make God become rather redundant in His descriptions). So as much as those first three verses apply to me or you, that fourth one applies to us.
 This isn't a one-time ordeal. This is throughout Scripture. Proverbs, or "The Book of Wisdom," if you will, takes only seven verses.
 This book, or these sixty-six books if you like, is intended to cut. It's intended to cut. It isn't a feel-good-book. It's a two-edged sword capable of dividing soul from Spirit, and marrow from bone--and it is pointed directly at you and me. Because, by nature, we're evil.
 Yet again i say, it's intended to cut. Sharply. Swiftly. And it doesn't stop until it's separated you from your very nature.
 The marrow, the interior region of the bone, the very core of it, the heart of it, is severed from the rest of the bone by this, the Word of God. It hurts.
 It hurts because it cuts deeper than any physical sword may come close to touching, and it splits you from your core, your thoughts from your mind, your intentions from your heart. It cuts away all that exterior stuff we call the flesh. So then we may be the blessed one that doesn't walk in the way of sinners.

 You'll find cancer must be cut away, infected tissue must be torn off, and necrotic limbs must be severed. And only then can life be preserved, only then can the body be healthy. It's painful.
 The truth hurts. And the truth doesn't care about our feelings. Just because it causes pain or it offends or it's not popular; that doesn't negate the truth of it in the slightest. In fact, it may serve to compound the factuality of truth when it hurts, because it's at that point that it's being quite effectual.
 There have been times i've been reading the Bible and fell into tears wishing that God didn't ask that of me, or that He didn't say that about people with my particular mentality or sin. But He did--nay, He does. The Great Physician had to start slicing away at my flesh, splitting it from my spirit. And He still does so nearly every time i open His Word.

 Pick up the Bible. Let it . . . Hurt you.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Forgetfulness Or Remembrance?

Many of us Christians think that, when God sets us free from our sin, that He is telling us to forget it, or better yet to glory in it the fact that it happened. This comes from taking verses from the New Testament out of context (Romans 5:20 comes to mind; "...but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more"). But He does not often give us such a command.

Here's a summary/exposition of some events; Jesus is preaching, and while doing so He talks of the hypocrisy and immaturity of "this generation," and says they're like children in a marketplace, talking to each other. He speaks of how John the Baptist, His own forerunner, came in abstinence (not just sexually, but in the dietary sense), and they said he had a demon; then they say, of Christ, that He's a glutton and a drunkard because He does not observe the same dietary restrictions--and they say He's a friend of tax collectors and sinners.
After this, He is invited into the house of a Pharisee, and a sinful woman comes in, and soaks His feet with her tears, wipes them with her hair, kisses them, then anoints His feet with her jar of perfume. Simon, the Pharisee, is thinking that if Jesus was truly a prophet that He would know what kind of sinner she was and that she was unclean and unfit to touch Him. But Jesus knew. He says, "Simon, I have something to say to you..." and proceeds to tell a parable about two debtors who can't pay back their dues, one who owed tenfold the other's debt, and the creditor cancelling their debts. Simon says it's the one who owed more that would love the creditor more. Jesus concurs.

Because Simon, a "holy man," had been brought up in a godly manner, lived according to the Law, had little to be forgiven of, he did not love Jesus as much as the woman who apparently didn't stop kissing His feet the entire time He was in Simon's house.
Simon didn't put oil on His head, didn't greet Him with a kiss (as was the custom), yet that woman, seeing herself unfit to put oil on His head, anointed His feet--if she were a prostitute, the "expensive perfume" was crucial in her craft, and the condition of her hair was no doubt just as important. Yet she matted her hair with mud (the tears and dirt), and poured her perfume on His feet because she was giving up what she had been.
She basically says, "I don't want to be like that anymore, so I lay all of it at Your feet." She surrenders everything for Him, not the following day, not a week from then, but at that very moment she poured it all at His feet.

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little. (Luke 7:47)
She was crying because of her sins, because she had sinned against Him. These were not tears of joy, these were tears of remorse. She knew He was the friend of sinners (read: He was the friend of her). And she knew this was her only hope, this man who spoke with authority from God, who the Pharisees feared, who preached a legitimate Gospel ("Good News"). And because she knew that, a Godly sorrow welled up within her until she poured tears about the floor and His feet, and she worshiped Him by giving up her livelihood to anoint not even His head but just His feet.
He did not tell her to forget her sins. He said they were forgiven--that He would forget. But she remembered her sins. And wept. And that's what anointed Christ.

See, we all have sins, and we all have a past.
Those who have been found guilty and yet forgiven for, say, stealing five dollars worth of merchandise will not be as happy and thankful to the judge as the person who has been found guilty but forgiven of attempted murder. And, sometimes, to sear one's conscience, we forgive them without reprimanding them.
This can serve to create a higher sense of guilt than punishing them. What's more, tell them that someone else decided to take their punishment; this will (or at least should) stir them up inside to the point of their tears flowing enough to soak the feet of the person who bore their sins. And they will (again, should) turn from their crimes and even say, "See this way I was? He took the blame for me. Because of that, I set my old ways at His feet and now they're an evidence to His love for me. And He'll do the same for you."

But how do we reconcile ourselves to our pasts of sin? How do we live on after this sin? Is remembering it and being filled with grief in itself a sin? After all, the New Testament says that sinful flesh, that old person has died; is remembering that equivalent to bringing it back?
Having spent time dwelling on my past, hating myself for it, i felt like i was doing something wrong because so many pastors say our sins are forgiven so we shouldn't even think of them anymore. That we should only think of good things (as mentioned in the New Testament). And now we have pastures filled with flocks acting like spotless lambs, when it was the only spotless Lamb chosen from the vile, filthy herd that we are to take our filthiness. Yes, we have been washed, but we must never overlook the fact that we were filthy, mangy, and unclean lest we forget the weight of the sacrifice of the truly perfect One sacrificed for us.
What glory does a Redeemer receive when those He redeemed act as though they're not even the same thing as was bought back?

And even so, we still have people saying we're to live like it never happened because we're a new creation. I once heard someone say we shouldn't refer to ourselves as sinners forgiven, because it in a sense dims-down the beauty of God's creation, and that it makes Jesus' work on the cross seem like less because we still focus on what we were before. Are we truly called to forget our sins? How do we resolve this?

Simple. Remembrance. Visit the grave of your old self, and do so often. Don't try digging up the body.
The Bible does say we are a new creation. But our past happened. We're not to be liars, and we're not to be ignorant. Keep reminders of the old self's death. Never forget it.
I remember my sin. And i don't want to forget it. Because i know i've been forgiven much; i never want to forget, because i don't want to love Him less. I want to see and to dance on that grave marked, "Joshua David Isaacs," because i know that self is dead, but i don't want to act like he never was a part of me or that he never lived.

I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God. (Ezekiel 16:62)
Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel. (Ezekiel 36:31-32)
Remember. Be ashamed. Be confounded. Loathe yourselves. All the while, praise God for Christ's sacrifice!

And what's a blog post without some lyrics?
Won't You please come and remind me?
I need to know what I've become. I need to know where I've come from.
Take me from this madness, take me from this pain.
Take me from this sadness, but don't take my memories.
 ("Memory" by Decyfer Down, from the album, "Scarecrow")

Sunday, June 1, 2014

On Bearing Fruit . . .

 Wisdom is know by her children. Another way of saying that is she is know by her fruit. What we reap is evidence of what we've sown. Everything planted underground, which is that what we put in secret and cover and water, will sprout. If one is, in secret, a sinner, it will grow into greater sin. If one is righteous in secret, it likewise will grow into greater righteousness. This is the nature of the supernatural; it is always a seed that will grow. This is why Jesus constantly refers to the Spiritual as having to do with fields, vineyards, crops, seeds, soil, etc. It's because it must be watered, must be kept, must be weeded, must be guarded. All things, we are given accountability to.
 But when we ourselves become the proverbial fig tree . . . What must we do?
 Bear fruit.

 Now, i'm not talking about some simple thing we can manage of our own accord; "Random Acts of Kindness," anyone can do. Not to say that specific gesture is without credence, but it's hardly a fruit of the Spirit when the world is just as capable as us. That could be, with the correct motive (glory given to God), a fruit of the Spirit, if we are led to it. But that's not what separates Christians from the world.
 Anyone can love those who are pleasant and lovely, which is why Jesus told us specifically to love our enemies. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and our neighbor is anyone put in our path, not merely the person of close residence. Neighbors are often our enemies, and enemies are often our neighbors, because those who wish us harm are oftentimes those who we are or have associated with.
 Do you know what it means to love an enemy? Do you know what it feels like to shake hands and to hug someone whom you know to be devising against you? Do you know what it's like to genuinely hope for their well-being?
 It's probably pretty difficult. In fact, i'd even dare say it's impossible for the flesh to accomplish some such feats.

 In 2006, in Pennsylvania, an armed man entered an Amish schoolroom of girls ranging from 6-13 years old with the intention of molestation. He killed five of them, and shot more. This would seem an unforgivable act. But there are those who are entirely unworldly, who are no more of this world than Christ is, who are able to attend the funeral of the perpetrator, look his family in the eyes and embrace them, and even contribute to his family's well-being. They forgave something i (and most others) could never dream of forgiving.

 Mark 11 tells us of Jesus being hungry and seeing a fig tree in leaf, though out of season for figs. Regardless, He approached it and found none on it, so He cursed it. The next morning, He and His disciples were passing back by and saw that it had died completely to its roots. It concludes with a message about faith, and He says, "whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." (v. 25)

 There are some interesting details about that little occurrence. For one, it was out of season for figs. Despite that, Jesus still cursed it. Another thing is He would've known before approaching it that it had no figs, not just because it was out of season but also because He is Christ--He knows things.
 Christ doesn't want us to produce only when we're in season, only when we're strong in faith or ready to take on a mission. He wants us producing now. At His approach. And the sad thing is, that tree reflects so many Christians. It's green. Looks healthy. It's in leaf. But it has no fruit.
 A quote i often sarcastically use is, "We're all about appearances here." That's exactly how so many Christians these days are, though; as long as we look Christian, as long as we give the appearance, we're okay. But no, this is fruitlessness!
 We don't even produce fruit in season (when things are going well), let alone out of season (we curse the sky when it falls--praise God for holding it up as long as He has!).

 If we're patient and loving and gentle and faithful (and the rest of the list from Galatians 5:22-23) when we have a roof over our heads, financial and emotional and physical security, and when we're healthy and have a computer to blog on, that we're doing pretty good at living by the Spirit and bearing good fruit.
 Take it all away; no water, no heat, no shelter, sleeping on the ground in the rain, eating the refuse of others, what do we have? Joy? Peace? This is the out-of-season that God expects us to bear fruit in. This is His approach. And if we can't offer such fruits as He asks for when we have nothing else, when we just have Him before us and asking us to be patient and self-controlled, we will be cursed and will wither to the roots, fit and ready to be thrown into the fire.

 It's not enough to simply be Christian. We have to be like Christ. It was not yet His "season," and even still He turned water to wine--the best wine at that.
 We can't settle for loving those that love us, but no less than compassionate for those that harm us. While we are still enemies, we must be reconciled to others that wish ill against us. This is bearing fruit out of season. Any fig tree can produce in season, but it takes one living for Christ to produce fruit out of season. Any worldly person can love those that love them, but it takes a Christian to truly and selflessly lay down their life for someone that hates them. And this is what Christ demands of us.

 Disclaimer: i am by no means perfect. I could not, presently, do as i've been writing. Forgiving a minor offense is simple enough. Love always trusts, though, and i'm one of the most untrusting people there is. I have witnessed too many hypocrites (of which i am the chief)--i don't want to see a perfect person, i just want to see people genuinely trying. And that's where the problem lies; i have too long been around too many churched people outside of Christian gatherings to trust but the fewest of few, because "nobody's perfect," so they refuse to even try to be Christian outside of the church walls.
 Tallying it up, there are literally six people outside of immediate family that have my legitimate trust. And i've learned that people are people; my faith does not rest in their faith. To see any of these fall, i've learned to callous myself in this way, would not make me falter.