Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Fruit of the Spirit

The Fruit of the Spirit, photo from here

“The Christian life, the fruit of the Spirit, is a constant reckoning of the flesh as dead and a constant relying on the present Spirit of Christ to produce love, joy, and peace within.”John Piper

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, [patience], 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.” –Galatians 5:22-25

The fruit of the Spirit is fruit a believer bears as a direct result of the Spirit of God at work within them. God’s Spirit works in us, through us, and despite of us. If we bear any of the fruit of the Spirit, it is God who is at work bearing that fruit.

If we are to bear the fruit of the Spirit, we must not live according to our sinful or fleshly desires. We must die to our self-centered passions and desires if we are to live in the Spirit and keep in step with God’s Spirit. Those who crucify the sinful nature and keep in step with the Spirit bear the fruit of the Spirit. We cannot bear the fruit of the Spirit on our own; it is the Spirit’s fruit.

A tree can be known by its fruit

“Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” –Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus

Jesus stated this plainly, “Every good tree bears good fruit.” If we are walking with Christ, and keeping in step with His Spirit, we will bear good fruit. If we are walking according to our sinful or fleshly nature, we will bear bad fruit. As Jesus clearly said, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.” We can clearly see where we stand with Christ and how we are relating to God by the fruit we bear in our lives.

We cannot bear fruit on our own

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  –John 15:5, Jesus

“The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” –Galatians 2:20

We cannot bear fruit on our own. Scripture is clear on this. If we are to bear the fruit of the Spirit, we must abide in Christ and live by faith in Him. If we abide in Christ, we will bear much fruit, but if we do not abide in Him, we can do nothing.

Paul also stated in Galatians 2:20 that the lives we now live, we live by faith in the Son of God. We cannot live to our sinful selves and keep in step with God’s Spirit and bear the fruit of the Spirit. We must walk in faith and keep in step with the Spirit of God to bear the fruit of His Spirit.

Jesus Christ is the embodiment of the fruit of the Spirit and perfectly lived out the fruit of the spirit for us to observe. It is only in Christ, and through the Spirit of Christ in us, that we can bear the fruit of the Spirit.

The word embodiment can mean personification, picture, example, or expression. Jesus certainly embodied or personified the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus is also the perfect expression of God’s Holiness and the fruit of God’s Spirit. In Jesus we see the perfect picture of the fruit of the Spirit, through the perfect work of the Holy Spirit.

We cannot look to Jesus as merely a picture or example, which we must follow, however. No. We must be taken over and Jesus must control us. We must allow God to be God and submit to His Lordship over our lives. We must allow God’s Spirit to indwell us and to produce the fruit of His Sprit in us. It is in Jesus Christ alone that we are able to produce the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus embodies these fruits in us by the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

The following is the fruit of the Spirit God produces in us by His Holy Spirit:

Love: We have love in Christ alone we

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  –1 John 4:8, John
  • Jesus is the embodiment of love 
  • We love because God is love 
  • We love because He loved us first
Joy: Our joy is in Christ alone

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” –John 15:11, Jesus
  • Our joy is complete in Christ alone
  • Jesus is the embodiment of Joy
Peace: Our peace is in Christ alone

“And through [Jesus] to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” –Colossians 1:19-20, Paul
  • Jesus has made peace through the cross 
  • Jesus is the embodiment of peace
Patience: In Christ we have patience

“Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.”  –Colossians 1:11, Paul
  • Jesus empowers us to have patience
  • Jesus is the embodiment of patience
Kindness: Is found in Christ alone

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  –Ephesians 4:32, Paul
  • We can show kindness because Jesus has shown us kindness 
  • Jesus is the embodiment of kindness
Goodness: Christ alone is good

“’Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good--except God alone.’” –Mark 10:18, Jesus
  • We are only good in Christ Jesus 
  • Jesus is the embodiment of goodness
Faithfulness: Christ alone is faithful

“But Christ is faithful as the Son over God's house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.” –Hebrews 3:6
  • Jesus is faithful when we are not 
  • Jesus is the embodiment faithfulness
Gentleness: True Gentleness is in Christ alone

“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  –Colossians 3:12, Paul
  • Christ is the embodiment of true gentleness 
  • We should be gentle in Christ’s gentleness
Self-control: True self-control comes through Christ alone

“Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  –Romans 7:21-25, Paul
  • Jesus is the embodiment of perfect self-control 
  • We can control ourselves through Jesus Christ alone

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Transformation, photo by Hoot Owl from Flickr

The following blog post, Transformation, is an excerpt from an article on transformation posted originally on Preaching Magazine’s website. You can read the article in its entirety here.

Being transformed and transforming our world for the glory of Jesus Christ is an important mission and this transformation is at the heart of Christianity. Paul emphasized transformation in Romans 12:2 when he said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Here, Paul is directing us away from conformity and towards transformation. What a glorious mission!

In The Message version of Romans 12:2, it says, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.” The essence of this passage is the reality that we all will be shaped by something. How we are shaped will affect the world around us, for better or for worse. We should always be mindful of how we are being shaped and how we are affecting the world.

Paul goes on to say, “fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you” (Rom. 12:2, Message).

God desires to change us from the inside out. We are changed by learning what God wants from us and by responding to it, in obedience to His will. While the culture and the sinful world around us attempts to stunt our growth and keep us in sinful patterns of immaturity, God desires for us to be transformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ, bringing out the very best in us.

As Christians, we should recognize this high call of transformation. We should realize, as Paul did, that transformation is at the heart of the gospel. We should recognize that transformed people transform people and transformed people transform the world for the glory of Jesus Christ.

A Prayer of Self-dedication: Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to You, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly Yours, utterly dedicated unto You; and then use us, we pray, as You will, and always to Your glory and the welfare of Your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. (Adapted from The Book of Common Prayer, Online, p. 832, 833)

The following blog post, Transformation, is an excerpt from an article on transformation posted originally on Preaching Magazine’s website. You can read the article in its entirety here

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Boston, MA - April 15, 2013, 
photo from Getty Images and


by: Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

(Sicut Patribus, sit Deus Nobis)

HE rocky nook with hilltops three
Looked eastward from the farms,
And twice each day the flowing sea
Took Boston in its arms;
The men of yore were stout and poor,
And sailed for bread to every shore.

And where they went on trade intent
They did what freeman can,
Their dauntless ways did all men praise,
The merchant was a man.
The world was made for honest trade,--
To plant and eat be none afraid.

The waves that rocked them on the deep
To them their secret told;
Said the winds that sung the lads to sleep,
"Like us be free and bold!"
The honest waves refuse to slaves
The empire of the ocean caves.

Old Europe groans with palaces,
Has lords enough and more;--
We plant and build by foaming seas
A city of the poor;--
For day by day could Boston Bay
Their honest labor overpay.

We grant no dukedoms to the few,
We hold like rights and shall;--
Equal on Sunday in the pew,
On Monday in the mall.
For what avail the plough or sail,
Or land or life, if freedom fail?

The noble craftsmen we promote,
Disown the knave and fool;
Each honest man shall have his vote,
Each child shall have his school.
A union then of honest men,
Or union nevermore again.

The wild rose and the barberry thorn
Hung out their summer pride
Where now on heated pavements worn
The feet of millions stride.

Fair rose the planted hills behind
The good town on the bay,
And where the western hills declined
The prairie stretched away.

What care though rival cities soar
Along the stormy coast:
Penn's town, New York, and Baltimore,
If Boston knew the most!

They laughed to know the world so wide;
The mountains said: "Good-day!
We greet you well, you Saxon men,
Up with your towns and stay!"
The world was made for honest trade,--
To plant and eat be none afraid.

"For you," they said, "no barriers be,
For you no sluggard rest;
Each street leads downward to the sea,
Or landward to the West."

O happy town beside the sea,
Whose roads lead everywhere to all;
Than thine no deeper moat can be,
No stouter fence, no steeper wall!

Bad news from George on the English throne:
"You are thriving well," said he;
"Now by these presents be it known,
You shall pay us a tax on tea;
'Tis very small,--no load at all,--
Honor enough that we send the call."

"Not so," said Boston, "good my lord,
We pay your governors here
Abundant for their bed and board,
Six thousand pounds a year.
(Your highness knows our homely word,)
Millions for self-government,
But for tribute never a cent."

The cargo came! and who could blame
If Indians seized the tea,
And, chest by chest, let down the same
Into the laughing sea?
For what avail the plough or sail
Or land or life, if freedom fail?

The townsmen braved the English king,
Found friendship in the French,
And Honor joined the patriot ring
Low on their wooden bench.

O bounteous seas that never fail!
O day remembered yet!
O happy port that spied the sail
Which wafted Lafayette!
Pole-star of light in Europe's night,
That never faltered from the right.

Kings shook with fear, old empires crave
The secret force to find
Which fired the little State to save
The rights of all mankind.

But right is might through all the world;
Province to province faithful clung,
Through good and ill the war-bolt hurled,
Till Freedom cheered and the joy-bells rung.

The sea returning day by day
Restores the world-wide mart;
So let each dweller on the Bay
Fold Boston in his heart,
Till these echoes be choked with snows,
Or over the town blue ocean flows.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Review of Charts on the Book of Hebrews

Cover photo of Charts on the Book of Hebrews 
from Kregel Publications

Kregel Publications’ has just put out Charts on the Book of Hebrews, by Herbert W. Bateman IV, as part of their series of Charts of the Bible and Theology. If you have not used chart books before, they are very helpful in seeing main theological ideas and in getting an overall sense of a book of the Bible. Chart books are perfect for the visual learner and help systematize concepts in a clear and tangible way.

As a High School Bible teacher, distilling complex ideas into simple visuals is very important. Communicating overall themes, authorship theories and theological concepts, in easy to read and understandable charts, helps Bible readers to be able to better decipher the scriptures and to see the structure of a book more clearly as they study it.

Hebrews is an excellent book, which connects the Old Testament with the New Testament, and this book of scripture is a great tool to study the Pentateuch and the tabernacle. Charts on the Book of Hebrews has detailed charts, which map out the tabernacle and connects the book Hebrews’ passages with the Pentateuch. Charts on the Book of Hebrews is an excellent resource for teaching and for understanding the book of Hebrews.

Charts on the Book of Hebrews is very detailed and comprehensive and offers a scholarly, yet simple and accessible, approach to studying the book of Hebrews. As a teacher and as a student of the scriptures, I highly recommend this book.

For more information on Charts on the Book of Hebrews, or to purchase a copy of this book, please visit Kregel Publications’ website here. This book is also available on here.

Kregel Publications’ website also offers the following description of Charts on the Book of Hebrews:

The book of Hebrews presents interpretive challenges and theological comparisons unrivaled in the New Testament. Charts on the Book of Hebrews puts this demanding yet rewarding information in an accessible and useful format. The charts fall into four categories:

  1. Introductory matters (e.g., authorship of Hebrews)
  2. Influences in Hebrews (e.g. Second Temple messianic figures)
  3. Theological issues (e.g. words of exhortation)
  4. Exegetical concerns (e.g. figures of speech)

Students will find this an invaluable companion to classes on Hebrews. Pastors and teachers will benefit from these insightful charts to quickly clarify difficult concepts while teaching. And all visual learners will find that these charts make Hebrews more comprehensible.

In exchange for this unbiased review, I received a free copy of Charts on the Book of Hebrews, by Herbert W. Bateman IV, from Kregel Publications

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Musings on the Origins of Poetry

"Poet and Pholosopher" (1958) - Nikos Engonopoulos, Photo by Tilemahos_E's, From Creative Commons, © February 21, 2009

Musings on the Origins of Poetry

“Ordering a man to write a poem is like commanding a pregnant woman to give birth to a red-haired child.”  ― Carl Sandburg

April is National Poetry Month and I am excited to participate all month long by posting a different poem each day on Facebook and Twitter, and by posting a new poem weekly on my poetry blog, Poetry by Robbie Pruitt, at

National Poetry Month has me thinking about how I write poetry and how I see poetry.  Where does a poem come from?  How are poems inspired?  As I have been thinking about this, it is interesting what answers begin to emerge. In this post, I will explore the variety of motivations and inspirations that yield the poetry that I write. 

One of my favorite poets is Carl Sandburg. I was inspired to write poetry very early on through reading Carl Sandburg’s poems. I also identify with much of what Sandburg said about writing poetry and can identify with a lot of what he said about poetry and his inspiration to write poems. I will begin each musing on the origins of a poem with a quote or idea from Carl Sandburg or another poet or artist and will then share my own thoughts, reflections, delights, adventures, struggles, or meditations about poetry.

An Idea of a Poem

“Nothing happens unless first a dream.”   ― Carl Sandburg, The Complete Poems

Before I set out to write a poem, there is usually an inspired emotion or thought. Sometimes I look at landscapes in nature, a photo, a person, a scripture, a song, an idea, or a thought and a poem begins to come to mind. Other times it is a conversation or a mood or emotion that sparks inspiration for a poem. 

A Structure of a Poem

 “I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going but I'm on the way.”  ― Carl Sandburg

This idea that “I don't know where I'm going but I'm on the way” begins to sum up the feelings and the thoughts that I have as I begin to write a poem. As I begin to write the poem, I am not too sure where I am going with it. Rarely do I have the whole poem in mind when I begin to write. 

The Title of a Poem

“Now I am here - now read me - give me a name.” ― Carl Sandburg

Sometimes I begin writing a poem with a line or a title and just begin. Sometimes I write the end first and then the beginning and then the title. Other times, I write the poem from beginning to end and then add the title at last. It is as if I am following the poem’s lead.

The Content of a Poem

“Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.”  ― Carl Sandburg

Poems often do not have the effect that I wish they had on me, or on others. They are written, they “give war,” but no one comes to meet their challenge, sometimes not even me. 

The Poems That I Do Not Understand

“I've written some poetry I don't understand myself” ― Carl Sandburg

Like Sandburg, I have often had this experience. I have written poetry that I do not understand.  It came from somewhere, but where, I do not know. Sometimes I understand the poem completely and other times I have no idea what I have written, what it means, or why I wrote it.

The Poetry of the Everyday

“A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.” –Robert Frost

Life happens and so do the poems that follow. Like Robert Frost asserted, a poem can have its origins in everyday emotions feelings, injustices, and loneliness, as well as the poetic muse of love. This is often the case with poems I write. Life happens and then poetry. To say it another way, life is poetic and I write it down.

The Poetry of Discovery

“Writing a poem is discovering.” –Robert Frost

Certainly there is discovery in poetry. The composer of the poem is lead into discovery as well as the reader. I discover a lot about myself and about my subjects when I write poetry.

Here are some other poetic musings that I’m contemplating this month:

Poetry on Accident

“A lot happens by accident in poetry.” –Howard Nemerov

Poetry is Essence

“Write what should not be forgotten.” –Isabel Allende

The Poetry of Naming

A poets work is to name the unnamable.” –Salman Rushdie

Poetry: The Dancing Echo

“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” –Carl Sandburg

The Adventure of Poetry

“Writing is an adventure.” –Winston Churchill

The Poetry in Listening

“The poet doesn’t invent. He listens.”  –Jean Cocteau 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

'If' by Rudyard Kipling

Movember's Muse - 'If' by Rudyard Kipling, 


(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Source: A Choice of Kipling's Verse (1943)