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?

    On Monday I voice my frustration with the rapid decline of moral standards for television. I was surprised to see the response. With my education in marketing, I have a tendancy to do market research. This means I watch to see what demographic of people (geographically) and how many view my blog. An average post of mine gets around 125 people view it and maybe one or two comments. On Monday more than 500 people saw it in 22 states and five countries. The thoughts must have struck a chord with some people.
    Tuesday was equally impressive with 120 visitors. Then Wednesday I didn't look and it (down to 24) and went back to my normal routine. Wait... what? I just got done speaking of the change that is need and followed it with... normal? I am ashamed. After reading the last post, how many episode of TV did you watch? How many hours of video games did you play? How many good books were read, or minutes in reflection and prayer? My answers hurt my soul, I would imagine many of yours did too.
    After reading the book The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, I became fascinated with epidemics. I don't mean the disease kind, but the "everyone has, does, or knows 'x' idea seemingly within a matter of hours. But 500 people does not change the thoughts and minds of a nation. With the Lenten season coming up (starts next week) I propose a challenge. If you haven't read my last post, do that first. The challenge is this: Let's shut off the tv, video games, useless internet times, and apps on the phone, and read or write a letter to a friend. It is a "wasted time" fast. But there is one more part to the challenge. Let people know about it. Write your experience on here of the results of this break. We are not alone in our thoughts of desiring change. SHARE, COMMENT, TALK so we know how "un"alone we really are.
    Could something as simple as sharing a blog, commenting, and reading help a country? Probably not. But it will most definitely help you. No more going back to routine after getting passionate about things that are wrong. It's time to change. Below are videos that hurt to watch. Excuse the expletives used in the first, but it makes a point.

I do not own the rights to these videos

    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.