You will know a tree by the fruit that it bears. An apple tree produces apples just like an oak tree produces acorns. If you desire apple pie, do not expect a vineyard to be very helpful. I learned a very valuable lesson while in college that I should only seek advice from someone who has the results in that area. RESULTS is the key word here. Many people are great at defending a point, bold in their answers, and convincing. But if you look at the results in their life, you would be less inclined to follow their lead in that area.

For the longest time I took my own financial advice... that didn't get me anywhere but farther backwards. I have also tried making my own way in spiritual matters. That turned out in heartbreak. There are people out there who have the results you desire; find them. If you are seeking spiritual advice, seek it from those who have the fruit of the Spirit as shown in Galatians 5:22-26: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

No one is perfect in these areas, of this I am aware. But those who are qualified to speak into your life, like spiritual teachers, should be, and are held to a higher standard of living in the results category (James 3:1). If your spiritual mentor does not exude great results in the fruits of the Spirit, then you should consider seeking out wise counsel elsewhere (Proverbs 19). NOTE: this is under the assumption you have a spiritual mentor... if you don't, get one!

Final disclaimer: all of the above content is intended for personal growth. It has nothing to do corporate worship or whole church functions. If you have issues in those areas I would advise you to go over Matthew 18:15-17 for how to handle it. God wants unity in the Body of Christ. That is how His glory is reveal and we worship and live in the greatest power! Don't divide...UNITE

Matthew 7:15-20 English Standard Version (ESV)

A Tree and Its Fruit
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

"Better is open rebuke than hidden love."  -Proverbs 27: 5

I didn't want to type today... so I spoke instead.
    I played video games tonight with my best friend's little brother (basically my little brother). I watched a movie the other day. I check my twitter almost every day. I had to communicate with some people via facebook, and lingered for a while. I am failing at this whole give it up for lent thing. 
    Worse than the Lenten commitments, or lack thereof, I question myself all of the time if what I do on a daily basis is right. This past Sunday night I spoke to the teens about priorities. Oddly enough, the message hit me probably the hardest. I am committed to a few different things currently: my God, my wife, my job, and my future family. If I put my daily activities into a pie chart I would not like the results.
    I do my devotions, usually. I love and cherish my wife, most of the time. I work and love much. But is it enough? Am I focusing my energies in the right directions? All this I write because I know many feel the same pressure at times in their lives. So what do we do? How can I be more at ease, content even, with me? Is it too simple to say pray?

    "My God is not dead, no, He's surely alive and He's living on the inside, roaring like a lion."

That roar is what is bothering me. The Lion of Judah is roaring inside of me while outwardly I meow like a tiny kitten.

Let this be our prayer:
God give me the boldness to be humble, the confidence to serve, and the maps to guide me. May your roar come screaming out of us like the Israelites screamed on the seventh day at Jericho. You are mighty. You are Good. Amen.

So how are you doing on your lent commitments?

    In the last few years I have heard many talk about "how bad our
country is getting". But I have seen enough good to avoid jumping on that bandwagon, until now. There was once a day when having a Super Bowl party for the youth group was a great time of fellowship and fun. That day is long since past. I realized last night while watching the game that I missed the last two Super Bowls due to snowboarding outings. I think that time off from the pinnacle
of advertising has allowed me to avoid the "easing into" the acceptance of blatant seductive sexual immorality on TV.

    Sex is rampant. One commercial after the other came on the screen making me uncomfortable. The only thing
missing from the halftime show was a pole, but don't worry, they incorporated that into one of the commercials. I am angry, sad, upset, but determined. One of the groups I associate with talks about a media battle. We are losing this
battle. I don't really watch TV much anymore anyway, but the Super Bowl may have just put me over the edge of no more. 
    I have always been intrigued by the passage in James 1:27 that says "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and TO KEEP ONESELF FROM BEING POLLUTED BY THE WORLD" (emphasis added). Most people focus on the first two parts of looking after orphans and widows, but I believe we have neglected the very important third call of pure and faultless  religion.

It is time to put down the remote, the game controller, and
ungodly internet sites, and time to pick up good books, prayer, fasting,
solitude reflection, and most of all Scripture.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who
sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the
one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let
us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all
people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

-Galatians 6:7-10

Oh The Things We See
By: Duncan Bone

The sun upon horizon line,
The moon when full and bright.
The snow weighs down the lofty pine,
The thought of love's first sight.

The hurting soul of love's depart,
The war in broken lands.
The shorten breath from broken hearts,
The bruise from angry hands.

My eyes discern both good and bad,
For love and hate abound.
Joy and pain I oft have had,
One constant I have found.

My sight cannot fix on the good,
For a broken world unfolds.
Peace only comes just as it should,
My life is in God's hold.

     Thanks to recent events I have had to consider things unimaginable. The thoughts
 of what had to occur in the previous decades to allow such heinous acts, such unspeakable evil to occur
to the most innocent. The repetition of such evil frustrates me. Yes, the loss
of innocent lives angers me, but I cringe after each event for another reason.    
     We hear stories of evil acting out in third world countries in ways that
scare us like demons and witchcraft. We hear of miraculous healings and people
coming to know God in amazing ways as well. There they call detestable things by
their rightful name: evil. Here we say let’s get more laws, more security, less
guns, more guns, mental health programs, etc… but things continue to get worse.
Evil more boldly shows its face in America with each passing day.            
     Yet after all of these current events I read in Ecclesiastes that says
there is nothing new under the sun. So why does it seem that our culture is
fading quickly into the moral abyss?  I look at the founding fathers of our
once great nation and see dozens of men of integrity who gave everything for the
freedom of all the people. Today I see millions of people who give little (if
anything) and expect more handouts. The founding fathers did everything they
could to uphold what was right, not what was easy. I RESOLVE to do what is right
no matter what the level of difficulty. I will work. I will love. And I will grow.

Darkness cannot exist where light shines. So let your light shine before
men, and watch them glow in your presence for they see a glimps of God's love.
 Here is some light to shine into your day: my nephew Liam