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I just know the handful of you who read this blog are dying to know what I’ve been reading this first half of 2018!  Below is a list (beginning with most recent read) along with a brief review of each (star rating is based on a maximum of 5 stars)

1. The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith and Idiocy by Rainn Wilson **** – A surprisingly poignant and balanced book by the actor who brought Dwight K Schrute (of The Office) to life. As you read Rainn’s story, you realize how much we are shaped by our parents and by how much we need to belong, have purpose/meaning and how critical it is that our lives are lived on truth. Some of this is learned by Rainn’s story, but much is learned by realizing where Rainn has built on the relativism of “everybody having their own truth.”

Much more than a “here’s how I became a successful actor,” this is an very educational read on human need and the importance of how we are impacted by, and can be of positive impact to, others.  I’d give it 5 stars but Rainn essentially ends his story when he comes to LA at the age of 34 and subsequently begins to list his acting and philanthropic endeavors. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it leaves one wishing he told the subsequent 18 years as vulnerably as he did the first.

2. Founding Rivals: Madison vs Monroe, The Bill of Rights and the Election That Saved a Nation by Chris DeRose ***1/2 – A lively and interesting look at the lives and friendship of James Madison and James Monroe and how they individually and through their friendship and rivalry contributed to the establishment of our nation from the time of the Revolution through the Constitutional Convention and the First Congress under the new Constitution.  The author claims the election of 1789 for the House of Representatives (the first under the new Constitution) from VA’s 5thDistrict (in which Madison and Monroe ran against each other) ensured the survival of the nation under the Constitution resulting in the creation of the Bill of Rights and the ratification of the Constitution by every remaining state – thus preventing the calling of a second constitution convention which likely would have done great damage to, if not the undoing of, the union.  Mr. DeRose makes a very credible case for this argument while also providing interesting facts and details of which I was not previously aware.  A great and light read for those who love U.S. History as well as one which provides meaningful insights from time-to-time.

3. To Change the Church (Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism) by Russ Douthat **** – An excellent look at the struggle for truth within the Catholic church.  In particular, though Douthat doesn’t use this term, it is a struggle against eisegesis which many priests, bishops and ultimately Francis (at least in part) have been employing over the last several years. His examination of this struggle and its potential consequences have striking parallels (and potential consequences) for evangelical churches as it already has for mainline Protestant churches.  In addition, Douthat provides an excellent summary of Catholic church history, particularly how the Vatican II council came about, what the Vatican II council brought about, and its ramifications to the present day which is critical in understanding how the current state of the church has been brought about. The initial dividing line which Douthat highlights in this struggle for truth and the church’s call to stand for it, is the debate over remarried couples participating in communion. While the Catholic church admirably argues for the sanctity and sacrament of marriage, it fails to acknowledge and apply the doctrine of repentance and forgiveness which is central to Christ’s mission and thus reveals a church which also struggles with rigidity and the appropriate application of grace and mercy.  Douthat doesn’t explicitly bring this out in his writing, but it is glaringly obvious. Douthat employs a masterful writing technique in expounding the arguments of “liberal” and “conservative” viewpoints, and one must be mindful that he is employing this technique lest one think he is endorsing the liberal (eisegetic) view.

I highly recommend this book as, for the discerning reader, it highlights the critical struggle going on in the Catholic and evangelical churches for truth. The church can’t be the effective body of Christ functioning as Christ’s ambassador and light if it simply seeks to accommodate the modern view that “everyone has their own truth”.  It cannot be a mere puppet for never-ending and always-changing relativistic views that seek to justify worldly wisdom, vanity and mores in place of God’s design and Jesus’ teaching.  Douthat makes an excellent case for this, while also, perhaps inadvertently, highlighting the need for true and faithful application of grace and mercy in the context of truth.

4. Helena by Evelyn Waugh **1/2 – Set in the time period of approx. 300 A.D., the book is intended as a didactic with the story of Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, as the central (and searching) character. While the book is true to ancient history as we know it, the author fails to develop both plot and characters leaving the reader to wonder why certain events in the story happened and large gaps in time in the plot with no explanation of what happened in between. I’d heard much about this book and looked forward to reading it, but was left disappointed as the story felt incomplete.

5. The Storm of War (A New History of the Second World War) by Andrew Roberts *** – A solid history with emphasis on the Allies’ effort against Germany (only 2 of 18 chapters devoted to the Pacific War against Japan, one of those largely perfunctory). Solid analysis of why the Axis lost and several interesting notes on individuals in the war.

6. Reflections on the Christian Life by Anthony Esolen ***** – quite simply one of the two best, if not the best, devotional book I can recall reading. To call this book a devotional book is really incomplete and does not do the book justice. Mr. Esolen has crafted a wonderful book that brings out timeless truths in a way that enlightens as you meditate on what he has written, and, more importantly, the Scripture behind it and how it can help form the story that is your life. Buy it and read it – but not hurriedly. Truly read and meditate and think through the truths and their application to your life. I spent months doing just that and was highly rewarded!

7. Grant Takes Command by Bruce Catton ***1/2 – This is a highly readable, informative and enjoyable history (written in narrative style) of the end of Grant’s western campaign (the Battle of Chattanooga), how and why that led to his appt as General-in-Chief of the Union armies and his subsequent Overland Campaign of 1864-1865 which culminated in the Appomattox surrender of Lee. It also ably tells of the struggles Grant faced in getting the commanders of the Army of the Potomac correct (all of the corps commanders save Meade [who was essentially demoted as a result of Grant’s presence with the army] were replaced within a year) as well as how his overall strategy of coordinated movement of all armies in the field led to ultimate victory. Only drawback is the heavy geographic detail which can be confusing without constant reference to maps not provided by the book.

8. Lessons in Hope (My Unexpected Life with St John Paul II) by George Weigel ***1/2 – From preliminary reviews, I expected this book (by George Weigel, a writer whose works and articles are must reading for me) to be a series of vignettes which highlighted stories the author witnessed (or heard about from others) during his eyewitness times with Pope John Paul II.  I also expected there to be lessons, if you will, in the hope that resulted from these stories as well as insights into John Paul’s character — what he valued, what “made him tick.”

This book, however,offers “biographical sketches” which show a fascinating and well-lived life.   The author assumes his readership is very familiar with Catholicism, Catholic history and the Catholic church which can make some of the reading something of a slog for Protestants such as myself.  However, ultimately, I gained a deeper understanding of the Catholic Church’s roots, its formation in the likeness of a nation, its bureaucratic shortcomings and, most enlightening, the contents of some historically important papal encyclicals. Of the greatest importance, however, the book offers a penetrating look into what many Catholic Church leaders thought of the pope and the inner workings of the church itself, particularly since Vatican II.  It offers insights into John Paul’s thoughts on the relation of the gospel and religion to culture (it is foundational and without it culture decays and devolves) and the importance of objective truth (it is a necessary condition and understanding it/living by it essential to liberty), as well as what he viewed as challenges to be faced in the 21st century and how Christianity should prepare and offer answers.  We also see a John Paul who continually sought God, whose relationship to God formed the core of his being and informed his purpose and peace in this life and resulted in a historically impacting pontificate.

The engaged and perceptive reader will find insights, truths and wisdom on the importance and potential impact of the gospel in history — both epochally (with the fall of Communism being the prime example) and in individual lives.  And in finding these truths and their impacts, one finds indeed, a rich store of Lessons in Hope.

9. Always Right by Niall Ferguson ***** – Excellent summary book on Margaret Thatcher, her views, her actions and why they were so important to history. While I am not a Briton, all Britons should be grateful to God for her – for she, and those who worked alongside her, truly did save the United Kingdom from itself and its slide into irrevelance. She reminded the UK of her contributions to history and restored pride. And, of course, she was so important to world history in the victory of the Cold War. “She was the leader, proof that sometimes it really is a single individual who can change the course of history.”

10. Out of the Ashes (Rebuilding American Culture) by Anthony Esolen **** – a fascinating, challenging and convicting read.  But beware, it is not for the faint of heart nor those easily offended. Dr. Esolen is a man of learning and conviction, and his tone and some of his thoughts on culture and divine truth will put off some. The author is largely accurate in his broad cultural analysis (if not always in the remedy, particularly regarding generalities on manhood and womanhood). The book has much to offer regarding , and boldly and accurately states, truth, beauty, education, God and man, how we rationalize evil and ugliness, and the need for ordinary people to be willing to resume the humanity that has often been lost (and how to do it). The last two chapters are classic and timeless!

11. Love Does (Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World) by Bob Goff *** – At its best, and that is often, the author provides motivation to “put legs” on their faith. It is, in this sense, a series of modern day parables (though they differ in that they are based on his and other’s life experiences) that emphasize what the book of James emphasizes — namely “What use is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”

At its “less than best,” there are places in which the book comes across as a Tony Robbins/Robert Kiyosaki “you can do it” motivational book with religious (though Mr Goff would not want anyone associating his book with “religion”) bromides and bumper sticker theology substituting for deep seeking of God. Example: “…[God] doesn’t pass us messages, instead He passes us each other.” “…our understanding will always have gaps and gaps are good because they leave room for God to fill in the spaces.”

12. Reagan at Reykjavik (Forty-eight Hours that Ended the Cold War) by Ken Adelman **** ½ – Deemed an abject failure at its conclusion in late 1986, the Reykjavik summit has since been realized to be the event in which the leaders of the USA (Reagan) and USSR (Gorbachev) “laid their cards on the table.” The result was an irrevocably altered understanding between the two leaders which resulted in the foundation and accelerator for the ending of the Cold War. Reykajvik was a summit like no other in the history of the Cold War.

The author, who was director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) from 1983-1987, was an active participant in the 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev summit at Reykjavik. He has crafted an excellent book which (even allowing for some minor contradictions and a style that sometimes brings confusion on chronology) covers the summit in vivid, but not excessive, detail and formulates well-supported conclusions of this historic summit.

Highly recommend for any serious student of history, and a must for those Cold War, Russian and/or later American history devotees.

13. Ronald Reagan & Margaret Thatcher: A Political Marriage by Nicholas Wapshott **** – an evenhanded overview of the Reagan-Thatcher partnership which proved so pivotal and impacting to their countries and to the world at large.
While not all of the author’s assessments are correct, the essentials are. He also provides the right amount of informative detail for an overview of arguably the most important political alliance of the 20th century and of two of the most important leaders of the same.

 

There you have it! On deck thus far in the 2nd half of the year:

  • Reagan: The Life by H.W. Brands
  • Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times by Leon R. Kass
  • Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Modern World by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput
  • Dictator: A Novel by Robert Harris
  • The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God by Dallas Willard
  • Not a Day Care: The Devasting Consequences of Abandoning Truth by Dr. Everett Piper

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The Masters golf tournament ended yesterday (yes, I got to roam the grounds of Augusta National Golf Course!).  Patrick Reed won his first major tournament.  In doing so, he overcame many obstacles:

  • He was NOT the one the crowds wanted to win.  Again and again, the crowd favorites were greeted with roars of approval when they were introduced and when they made a great shot.  Patrick, on the other hand, was given only “polite golf applause” when he was introduced or when he made a great shot.  It was evident to all that he was not who the crowds were rooting for.  One of the headlines on CBSsports.com even read, “How a Villain Won it All” in describing Patrick’s victory.
  • The pressure of some of golf’s best players gaining significant ground (one even getting tied with him) when he faltered early.  When Patrick began the day with a bogey and a par (on a hole in which he should have had birdie), it looked like he would wilt under the pressure.  Instead, he steadied himself and made the shots he had to over the next 16 holes.
  • The challenge issued by one of golf’s best golfers, Rory McIlroy, with whom Patrick was partnered on Sunday, the last round of the tournament.  Rory was playing the “mental game” against Patrick.  Patrick stayed mentally tough throughout.

How did Patrick Reed manage to overcome all of these obstacles?  He won because he remained focused and committed to his purpose.  As I think on this, I’m reminded of Paul’s exhortations to us as Christians:  “Do you know know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may win.”  (1 Cor 9:24)  “Run in such a way that you press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

The need for Christians to live up to our identity and calling in Christ in today’s deteriorating culture cannot be overstated.  Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest, the April 8 reading, states: “[Jesus’] resurrection means for us [Christians] that we are raised to His risen life, not to our old life….we can know now the [power and effectiveness] of His resurrection and walk in newness of life.  Thank God it is gloriously and majestically true that the Holy Ghost can work in us the very nature of Jesus if we will obey Him.”

Like Patrick Reed, we will face significant obstacles in seeking to live in (and live out) our new life and identity in Christ.  There will be those who root against us, those who actively work against us, those who try to bully and pressure and shame us with “mental games.”

But Oswald Chambers is right … we can know now the power and effectiveness of His resurrection, we can walk in newness of life and the Holy Spirit work in us the very nature of Jesus … if we obey Him.

Patrick Reed won the Masters because he “ran the race” focused and committed to golf’s ultimate prize.  As Christians, we must run for a greater calling and prize.  We do this that we may become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:1-4) and because if we don’t, we simply deny the light culture so desperately needs.

C.S. Lewis wrote: “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us. [We are] like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Are you (am I) “too easily pleased?”

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From preliminary reviews, I expected this book (by George Weigel, a writer whose works and articles are must reading for me) to be a series of vignettes which highlighted stories the author witnessed (or heard about from others) during his eyewitness times with Pope John Paul II.  I also expected there to be lessons, if you will, in the hope that resulted from these stories as well as insights into John Paul’s character — what he valued, what “made him tick.”

This book, however, did not meet these expectations.  That does not mean I didn’t enjoy the book, but if you are desiring a book that does what the first paragraph above outlines, this book is not for you.

What Mr. Weigel does do is offer, really, his own “mini-autobiography” as it relates to how he came to know Pope John Paul II and how he ended up writing his biographies of the Pope (“Witness to Hope” and “The End and the Beginning”).  In this sense, he offers “autobiographical sketches” which show a fascinating and well-lived life.

The author assumes his readership is very familiar with Catholicism, Catholic history and the Catholic church which can make some of the reading something of a slog for Protestants such as myself.  However, ultimately, I gained a deeper understanding of the Catholic Church’s roots, its formation in the likeness of a nation, its bureaucratic shortcomings and, most enlightening, the contents of some historically important papal encyclicals.

Of the greatest importance, however, the book offers a penetrating look into what many Catholic Church leaders thought of the pope and the inner workings of the church itself, particularly since Vatican II.  It offers insights into John Paul’s thoughts on the relation of the gospel and religion to culture (it is foundational and without it culture decays and devolves) and the importance of objective truth (it is a necessary condition and understanding it/living by it essential to liberty), as well as what he viewed as challenges to be faced in the 21st century and how Christianity should prepare and offer answers.  We also see a John Paul who continually sought God, whose relationship to God formed the core of his being and informed his purpose and peace in this life and resulted in a historically impacting pontificate.

The engaged and perceptive reader will find insights, truths and wisdom on the importance and potential impact of the gospel in history — both epochally (with the fall of Communism being the prime example) and in individual lives.  And in finding these truths and their impacts, one finds indeed, a rich store of Lessons in Hope.

 

 

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I recently finished reading “Out of the Ashes” by Anthony Esolen. Wow, what a fascinating, challenging and convicting read! I encourage any and all to read the book — but beware, it is not for the faint of heart nor those easily offended. Dr. Esolen is a man of learning and conviction, and his tone and some of his thoughts on culture and divine truth will put off some. He also tends to interrupt a line of thought for another line and it is up to the reader to determine how the thoughts are related to the immediate subject he is on at the time. Having said that, the author is largely accurate in his broad cultural analysis (if not always in the remedy, particularly regarding generalities on manhood and womanhood). The book has much to offer, and boldly and accurately state, regarding truth, beauty, education, God and man, how we rationalize evil and ugliness, and the need for ordinary people to be willing to resume the humanity that has often been lost (and how to do it). The last two chapters are classic and timeless! While the book is meant for more than the church, the universal church would do well to adapt what is discussed into how to recover its true mission and how to engage and influence by being distinct and thus true light.

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A few weeks ago, I finished “Love Does” by Bob Goff.  I know … I’m late to the party as this was a “must read” in Christian circles like 5 years ago.  However, I was hesitant to read the book because, to listen to others gush about it, it sounded more kitsch and cant than substantive.  Now, having read the book, I’d say that some of that hesitancy was justified, BUT….

At its best, and that is often, the author provides motivation to “put legs” on their faith. It is, in this sense, a series of modern day parables (though they differ in that they are based on his and other’s life experiences) that emphasize what the book of James emphasizes — namely “What use is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”

At its “less than best,” there are places in which the book comes across as a Tony Robbins/Robert Kiyosaki “you can do it” motivational book with religious (though Mr Goff would not want anyone associating his book with “religion”) bromides and bumper sticker theology substituting for deep seeking of God. Example: “…[God] doesn’t pass us messages, instead He passes us each other.” “…our understanding will always have gaps and gaps are good because they leave room for God to fill in the spaces.”
In addition, there is a persistent “religion is bad” undercurrent. True religion, as Scripture points out (James 1:27) does the very things Mr Goff advocates and encourages. While I understand Mr Goff actually means “empty religion” (that which is buoyed by legalistic rules, righteous cliques and gatekeepers more interested in their own power), the continual bashing of religion and claiming Jesus wasn’t religious is somewhat wearisome. To quote a MiddleTree blog review, “[The author sometimes] seems to forget the world, and the Church, needs the folks he subtly calls out: black & white thinkers, the ones who study theology, the ones who call out sin; in other words, the ones who are very different from him. These folks, subject to borderline derision in a few spots in “Love Does”, have their place, and play an important role in the world. If everyone was like them, it would be a disaster. But Goff seems to dismiss them altogether, or at least to minimize their importance.”

Thankfully, those kinds of things are not the emphasis of the book. The last few chapters, in particular, are spot on in calling the reader to put faith and love into action. So, despite the qualms, Love Does is a light, fun read in which the author uses his own experiences to tell great stories to highlight that following Jesus isn’t just a matter of “knowing the right things.” It is a matter of loving as Jesus loves, being His hands and feet — going and doing. And in so doing, we experience abundant life and we “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Bob Goff is one of those rare people who doesn’t just tell good stories; he lives them. And Love Does inspires you to follow his lead. It accomplished its main aim — getting me (the reader) to think about how to more actively love the people around me and who intersect in my life as well as to think about what my story can/should be in light of the gifts and passions God has instilled in me. And that makes this a worthwhile read and certainly commends the author.

A Good Ambassador

Cromartie
Do you know this man?  I was not aware of him until I read an article regarding his passing. I would have liked to have met him and been able to “intern” to watch how he represented and bridged Christ/Christianity to journalists.
 
What exactly did this man do?  Michael Cromartie was his name.  And he was “one of Christianity’s principal ambassadors in Washington, [representing] Jesus with joyful confidence,” according to Michael Wear, a former White House faith adviser under Barack Obama. “I’ve seen the effects of his life and work up close, and both the church and the nation are better off because of him,” said Wear.  “Michael was a friend whose encouragement I did not deserve, and whose insight has shaped my work, my life and my faith.  In the days ahead, we should look to Michael’s example to stoke our imagination for what a faithful public witness can look like in this moment.”

Scripture tells us that “we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us.” (2 Cor 5:20). From reading about Mr. Cromartie’s life and work and from the encomium’s from journalists across the political and ideological spectrum, it seems Mr. Cromartie was an excellent ambassador of Christ.  

 
Said one, “Mike was a man of great knowledge who made it accessible to others. He was a man of great faith, who make it real and attractive to others. And he was a man of exceptional decency, who demonstrated how to live with joy and integrity.”
 
If that could be said of me, then I would be much more excited about meeting my Maker because I would be a much better ambassador for Christ.
 
Over the past year as I’ve been on a personal sabbitical, as I’ve prayed, studied Scripture, the lives of those I admire and tried to assess myself against God’s truth, I realize I fall well short of the standard Michael Cromartie set. He ran the race set before him well. What was said of him in terms of how he represented Christ could not be said of me.
 
It is (or should be) every Christian’s goal, upon death and entering the presence of Christ, to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23). I believe Michael Cromartie heard those very words on August 28, 2017.
 
My time of introspection has not been easy, nor always pleasant in facing some unwelcome realities about some aspects of my character, personality and actions. Don’t get me wrong, God has also shown me times and areas where “I’ve gotten it right.” But I also see much to improve on as I make my calling sure (2 Peter 1:10).

What I’m most grateful for is that God is making me aware of the areas where I must grow and improve; that He has not abandoned me, but rather I realize that in His lovingkindness, He has been blessing where I don’t deserve, working in circumstances and decisions to bring me to the point of serious Spirit-led self-assessment from which I fervently hope and believe He will make a new path/work for and in me.  I am amazed at His patience and His continued work in me.  He, I believe, through love and discipline is preparing a way that, in the end, I too can hear the words, “Well done good and faithful servant….”  What a marvelous God indeed — the He continues to be mindful of me!

I was in a Target retail store today walking down a main aisle to get to school supplies (looking for a graphing calculator for one of my boys).  As I looked ahead, I saw an elderly lady with a shopping cart stop and begin to eye me.  I could tell she thought I might be a Target employee.  Sure enough, when I was close enough for her to make herself heard, she inquired as to whether I worked at the store (as I was wearing khaki slacks and an orange-red shirt, her thought was understandable).

However, how she phrased her question caught me up short — and has had me thinking ever since.  She asked, “Are you a customer, or are you a real person?”

After confirming with her I was a customer, I began thinking on the latter half of her question — “are you a real person?”   Oh, I’m definitely flesh and blood, but that simply means I’m existing.  In looking for descriptions of a “real person,” I came across words like genuine, authentic, giving, loving and vulnerable.  If those words characterize a “real person” (and I think it certainly encompasses those things), then I sometimes struggle.

I naturally lean toward a “type-A personality,” but I’m also introverted by nature.  The results of such a combination are often stoicism (lack of showing emotion) and introversion.  I can often seem unapproachable, difficult to talk with, interested in people only in terms of how they can contribute to tasks at hand (a commodity).  When emotion does come out, it can often be in the form of impatience and/or frustration.

As I’ve reflected on this, I can think of many times when I’ve not been a “real person,” but rather a brooding, self-absorbed person.  Times when I’ve gotten frustrated and impatient with my wife or boys because they haven’t gotten something done or because they don’t get what I’m trying to explain after they’ve asked me to help them with their homework.  Times when I’ve “withdrawn” rather than drawn close.

I remember a time awhile back when a friend from work and I were talking.  This friend was trying to help me see why sometimes I could be intimidating or thought to be unapproachable.  As she was talking, I remained impassive.  I offered no words or facial expressions/body language.  Exasperated, she said, “See, this is what I’m talking about.  I have no idea what you’re thinking and wonder whether you care at all.”  I wasn’t being a real person.

As I’ve continued to think, the apostle Paul’s words on the fruit of the Spirit keeps coming to my mind:  “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control….”  A real person is one who exhibits these characteristics.  Such a person is genuine and values people as people (versus a commodity useful in accomplishing tasks).  Such a person is one who enriches others’ lives simply by how they interact with others – exhibiting the fruit outlined above.

As a Christian, I should be, by-and-large, a real person.  None of us is a perfect real person, but as a Christian, being a real person (defined by the fruit of the Spirit) should be the norm.  Christ says, and I’m paraphrasing here, that you can recognize a people by how they act — as you can identify a tree by its fruit.  A good tree (real person) bears good fruit (love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, etc).  A bad tree, on the other hand, produces bad fruit (self-centeredness, impatience, anger, indifference, harshness, etc).  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

At the end of the day, I want to be able to answer that elderly woman’s question with, “Yes, I’m a real person.”  I can’t do that in my own strength, but only by walking in and with the Spirit of God.  May I, may we all, do so and be “real people.”