fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Everything to G.A.I.N

A Farewell Address by Julie McAllen

Thank you for reading this blog. The fruitage of the Spirit blog began in March 2009, set up by my friend Linda Angeles. Linda and I never actually met in person, but got to know one another through an on line support group for ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses.

I am thankful to Linda who got me started in the world of blogging nearly 7 years ago. And thank you readers for your time, prayers, and encouraging words during the years I contributed to this particular site. The last article I wrote here was offered on May 16, 2014. You’ll note this article you’re reading now is my first and last offering for 2015. I had a case of writer’s block brought on by discouragement from the negative comments I had been getting from people who viewed the ministry I’d been called to as of no value. It affected my heart to the point that I questioned why I bothered to pray for certain people or offer words of encouragement. Thus my last post here questioning how to continue in my “Sweet hour of prayer.” I found a strange connection with Jeremiah at that time and even now the words I wrote in that blog remind me of what this season has been about.

Jeremiah got a taste of what it is to be called by God. He knows what it feels like to be His spokesman and intercessor. And he just wants to die. It’s no fun, it’s causing him such personal pain that he is even willing to give up his relationship with the one who called him. But from the depths of his soul, he remembers how God’s word filled him and gave him joy. He’s not ready to give up on that, but he questions the hand that commissioned him to this indignation and now asks “will you indeed be to me like a deceptive stream with water that is unreliable?” (Jeremiah 15:18)
Whoa.
Can’t you just hear Jeremiah’s bi-polar prayer, “God, I love you so much, I am willing. Send me….. But God… I’m beginning to doubt the words I received. Yes, I ate them with joy, but maybe they are unreliable? How can I possibly be your spokesman when I see only this rotten fruit from my efforts and now you’re even telling me to stop praying for them? I give up.”
The prophet was going through the refining fire. The compassion inside this man was now turning to hatred. Jeremiah’s heart became entangled with too much compassion toward a people needing discipline. Where was Jeremiah’s focus? On God or on these people? And this is where God had to step in and remind Jeremiah of his commission as a spokesman.

Entanglement and Focus. Rest assured, this uncomfortable season has birthed some articles on those topics, but they will not appear here. This is in fact my last offering on Fruitage of the Spirit.

Thank you for 7 years of readership here. All my articles, along with Linda’s and some others, are still archived here in Fruitage of the Spirit. Some of those offerings will be reworked or simply linked to my new blog address along with some “fresh fruit.” Nothing is lost and I have everything to G.A.I.N.

G.A.I.N is an acronym for the title of my new blog. The letters stand for Go Away, I’m Naked!

If you visit that site, please note that the first article is a WARNING. Please read it before blindly subscribing. After you’ve received the warning, I understand if you choose not to subscribe or follow my writings. That is the purpose for the warning. My goal is not how many subscribers or “likes” I can get, my desire is simply to write. You’re welcome to take a peek, but if you’re offended by what I choose to expose of my thoughts, you can always Go Away, I’m Naked!

2016 is going to be a year of great G.A.I.N!

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

December 31, 2015 Posted by | Expressions, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Sweet Hour of Prayer: to bless or to curse?

Sweet Hour of Prayer: to bless or to curse? by Julie McAllen

blue blessing and curse

 

Jeremiah’s Prayer

You who know, O Lord,
Remember me, take notice of me,
And take vengeance for me on my persecutors.
Do not, in view of Your patience, take me away;
Know that for Your sake I endure reproach.
Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts.
I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers,
Nor did I exult.
Because of Your hand upon me I sat alone,
For You filled me with indignation.
Why has my pain been perpetual
And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?
Will You indeed be to me like a deceptive stream
With water that is unreliable? (Jeremiah 15:15-18)

I love the prophet Jeremiah, the poor guy.

“Take vengeance for me on my persecutors” says the weeping prophet. Have you ever cursed someone in prayer? Doesn’t it seem wrong since we are taught to forgive and pursue peace? But even Jesus didn’t hesitate to denounce some people. He didn’t labor in prayer to bless them or spend all His time counseling those readily recognized as sons of their father the devil. Jesus knew exactly when to curse a sinner and when to bless another. Of course, none of us want to be guilty of denouncing people for whom God wants us to pray or show compassion, but at the same time if we’re called to speak the hard truth we can’t afford to quench the fire of the Spirit.  The discernment we need is to do only what we see our father doing. The perfect son of God had this insight, but Jeremiah, like us, had to learn it through his trials.

When Jeremiah was called at a young age, he basically doubted it. Ya know, “God, I’m not your man.” But God assured him that He would be with Jeremiah and give him words to say in his mission territory which was the people of Judah. Tall task.

Why does God have prophets? Because even as He observes our sins, He loves us and seeks to bring us to Him. Jeremiah was called as a prophet and therefore filled with God’s thoughts toward Judah. The first call to order was to confront their sin. Yes, confront their sin, not pray. Jeremiah is told what to say to them and naturally is not well received. Think about that. God calls this young man to represent Him and continually must reassure him to “have no fear for I am with you” but basically throws him to the lions. He has no friends, no family and no respect from the religious community to whom he is sent. God didn’t just comfort Jeremiah in the absence of finding a wife, He expressly told Jeremiah not to look for one! God WANTED Jeremiah lonely. It kinda makes God look like a big meanie if you ask me. But what would’ve happened to Jeremiah if he had the support of family and community? Perhaps the fiery gift of justice in this prophet would have been quenched by the balance of a close relationship. Imagine Jeremiah about to go out the door to pronounce judgments against Judah and a sweet wife pleading with him to “calm down and be nice.” She might even use the standard blessing verse so many love to quote and tell Jeremiah that God has “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope ” (Jeremiah 29:11).  It’s rather amusing how often people single out this one verse from the book of Jeremiah to bless a friend when Jeremiah himself did not even have a pleasant life as a favored man of God. The plans God had for Jeremiah brought forth a prayer to curse the people to whom he was sent. Do you ever look at a guy like that and think to yourself, “Dear God, please don’t ever put me in that position. Can I please just have a normal life and I promise I will praise you all my days.” I know I have.

So here is Jeremiah, filled with God’s Holy Spirit and compassion toward Judah. And what happens? The reality check of it hits the prophet first with tears. He weeps and mourns for Judah. Their sin becomes his own sin. Have you ever noticed that among the prophets? They always plead something like Jeremiah’s words at Jeremiah 14:7, “our iniquities testify against us, O Lord, act for Your name’s sake!” The prophet is caught up in God’s concern for Judah at this point. He feels the love of God and His desire for them to return to Him. He is interceding in their behalf with an earnest prayer of repentance as he carries their sin as his own. Wouldn’t God delight in this? You’d think so wouldn’t you? But notice God’s reaction to Jeremiah who was led by God’s Spirit to pray in the first place.

“Do not pray for the welfare of this people” (Jeremiah 14:11)

Huh? I was just as perplexed as Jeremiah who argued with God and defended their waywardness based on the false prophets which misled them. I thought how this relates to my own prayers for those who are misled by false prophets. In prayer I cry the tears of Jesus remembering my own blindness as I ask for his mercy. I cry out that it’s not really their fault, they are in darkness and therefore I intercede. Jeremiah is basically arguing this same point with God. And God remains firm telling Jeremiah to give up these prayers and pronounce judgment not just on the leaders but all the people. I feel Jeremiah at this point. I wonder if Jeremiah saw God as heartless as I did when He said,

“Even though Moses and Samuel were to stand before Me, My heart would not be with this people; send them away from My presence and let them go! And it shall be that when they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then you are to tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord:
“Those destined for death, to death;
And those destined for the sword, to the sword;
And those destined for famine, to famine;
And those destined for captivity, to captivity.”’
I will appoint over them four kinds of doom,” declares the Lord: “the sword to slay, the dogs to drag off, and the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. (Jeremiah 15:1-3)

Ouch! God is pitiless toward Judah yet He has called a weeping man to confront them! God’s already appointing them to doom. Does He even desire repentance? It’s almost as if Jeremiah has more love toward Judah than God at this point. What a quandary for the prophet. It could have caused him to see himself as being wiser and more compassionate than God. I’ve no doubt this is what brought him to despair wondering about this God who called him. His own faith was being tested in this awful commission as evidenced in his remorse and regret at ever having been born!

Woe to me, my mother, that you have borne me
As a man of strife and a man of contention to all the land!
I have not lent, nor have men lent money to me,
Yet everyone curses me. (Jeremiah 15:10)

Jeremiah got a taste of what it is to be called by God. He knows what it feels like to be His spokesman and intercessor. And he just wants to die. It’s no fun, it’s causing him such personal pain that he is even willing to give up his relationship with the one who called him. But from the depths of his soul, he remembers how God’s word filled him and gave him joy. He’s not ready to give up on that, but he questions the hand that commissioned him to this indignation and now asks “will you indeed be to me like a deceptive stream with water that is unreliable?” (Jeremiah 15:18)

Whoa.

Can’t you just hear Jeremiah’s bi-polar prayer, “God, I love you so much, I am willing. Send me….. But God… I’m beginning to doubt the words I received. Yes, I ate them with joy, but maybe they are unreliable? How can I possibly be your spokesman when I see only this rotten fruit from my efforts and now you’re even telling me to stop praying for them? I give up.

The prophet was going through the refining fire. The compassion inside this man was now turning to hatred. Jeremiah’s heart became entangled with too much compassion toward a people needing discipline. Where was Jeremiah’s focus? On God or on these people? And this is where God had to step in and remind Jeremiah of his commission as a spokesman.

Therefore, thus says the Lord,
“If you return, then I will restore you—
Before Me you will stand;
And if you extract the precious from the worthless,
You will become My spokesman.
They for their part may turn to you,
But as for you, you must not turn to them.
“Then I will make you to this people
A fortified wall of bronze;
And though they fight against you,
They will not prevail over you;
For I am with you to save you
And deliver you,” declares the Lord.
“So I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked,
And I will redeem you from the grasp of the violent.” (Jeremiah 15:19-21)

God needed a spokesman not a man on his knees crying for himself or a wayward people. So Jeremiah was strengthened for the task and further set apart as a fortified wall of bronze by focusing his attention on the will of God instead of the reaction of those to whom he was sent. And so, after his pity party, Jeremiah again goes out boldly with the word of the Lord. And something new happens.

Do you remember how Jeremiah repented on behalf of his people when he was first sent but God told him to stop praying for them? Jeremiah questioned it but now he is being aligned with God because after his repeated attempts to get Judah to repent, he’s sick of them too. They’ve made their hate of God known as they seek to kill His prophet. And like any human being under such stress, Jeremiah has hit his breaking point and begins his appeal to God, not to save them this time, but to bring His wrath upon them!

“May an outcry be heard from their houses,
When You suddenly bring raiders upon them;
For they have dug a pit to capture me
And hidden snares for my feet.
Yet You, O Lord, know
All their deadly designs against me;
Do not forgive their iniquity
Or blot out their sin from Your sight.
But may they be overthrown before You;
Deal with them in the time of Your anger!” (Jer 18:22-23)

Uh-oh, is Jeremiah sinning by calling down these curses? The Lord does not rebuke Jeremiah in this prayer. Instead, He encourages him to buy an earthenware vessel and smash it before their eyes as a physical illustration for them to see what God is about to do to them. God confirms Jeremiah’s alignment with His will. Jeremiah is now seeing what his father in heaven is doing.

The lesson for us is contained within the model prayer, “let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  We’re here to announce God’s will and not our own. It’s a pleasure to pray blessings over those whom God has asked us to bless, but from the first calling of Jeremiah, God had in mind a curse toward Judah. His will to curse was set in heaven, but He was looking for someone on earth to proclaim it with authority. God was fed up with Judah and took the time to align soft-hearted Jeremiah with His will. Perhaps evil runs rampant because we all too often resist the Holy Spirit in this area. It’s uncomfortable to confront someone with their sin, but by assigning Jeremiah a stiff-necked people to reach, the faithful prophet came to know the joy, the love, the compassion and also the pain of His God. God held back nothing and Jeremiah came to know his God more intimately because of it.

Sweet hour of prayer: to bless or to curse?

Keep yourselves in Gods’ love, Julie

May 16, 2014 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , | Comments Off on Sweet Hour of Prayer: to bless or to curse?

Misplaced and Unsettled

 Enjoy another heartfelt and encouraging message from my friend Sharon Leasure, who by the grace of God, has discovered the soul of a writer within her that was kept hidden all these years but set free now to bless us. ~Julie

 

 

Misplaced and Unsettled by Sharon Leasure

When my boys were little I ventured off to a new and larger than life mall. It was the new White Marsh Mall, two floors, WOW this is incredible. The parking lot was humongous as was the building I was about to enter with two small boys. As I walked through Macy’s I noticed the tie display, men’s dress shirts and slacks. I recorded it to memory so I could find my way back out. Well, I certainly was overwhelmed by how enormous the mall looked. It seemed to take forever to get from one end to the other. By the time I was done my oldest child was tired of walking and my baby was getting hungry. I walked through the store heading to the parking lot. I went past the slacks, the dress shirts and the ties. I went out into the parking lot and over to where my car was. That is when my heart skipped a beat and panic surged through my body as if I had been poked with a prodding iron. Where was my CAR?!!!! Was it stolen, did I park it somewhere else? I went back into the mall and checked the display, it was just like I remembered it. So where was my car? I went back out to the parking lot and still could not find it. Now, I have misplaced my keys, my pocket book but never my car. My heart was beating pretty fast, I was shaking, I was sweating profusely as I walked back into the mall. I went to the other side of the mall and walked into Macy’s and there was the same display. I ran to the door and there was my beautiful car. I took the biggest sigh of relief. Once I got the boys buckled up I sat and cried.

There have been times in my spiritual walk that I have been misplaced and unsettled. I have strayed off that path of righteousness and walked down my own path. When He spoke to me I didn’t hear, I had turned a deaf ear. It wasn’t that I didn’t want Him to speak moon light pathto me, it is that I didn’t recognize it. Yes I heard the sound of the birds but looked away. God was saying to put a song in your heart today and not to be weighed down by the anxieties of life. I felt the wind on my face. God was telling me to stop striving after what I cannot have. I saw the squirrels playing but didn’t stop to watch. God was telling me life is short, enjoy the gift I have given you. As I drove home in the evening, the moon and the stars illuminated the night sky, I walked to the door never looking up. God was covering me with His grace and mercy, wanting me to be still and just listen.

I wondered why I had so much stress in my life, why was I so unsettled? I believed I knew God and I certainly was living a morally clean life, so why so much unhappiness? Doesn’t God love me or care how I feel? Why has He deserted me? Truth is in a way I deserted Him by misplacing my trust. I started trusting myself more than trusting Him. God does care, more than we know, we just have  to be still and listen. He speaks to us each and every day. I had to learn to turn myself over to Him and then and only then did I hear His voice. It came alive and became so clear.

Proverbs 3:6 ~ In all your ways acknowlecdge Him, And He will make your paths straight

By: Sharon Leasure

January 13, 2014 Posted by | Expressions | Comments Off on Misplaced and Unsettled

Christmas Through My Eyes

I introduced my friend Sharon Leasure earlier this month with her story of how unconditional love was displayed to her one Christmas when her father took the time to find the lost eye glasses of her beloved Mrs. Beasley doll. He had to dig through several garbage bags to find the glasses. This past year, Sharon’s heavenly Father began helping her unpack the bags of garbage in which she’d lost pieces of herself. For 30 years Sharon read the New World Translation of the Bible published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, but did not know her Savior. Now that she has been away from the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses for one year and her eyes have been unveiled as a precious, new born baby in Christ , she invites us to see Christmas through her eyes…

Christmas Through My Eyes by Sharon Leasure

In June of 1980 as I studied the bible with my Jehovah’s Witness aunt I began to learn the evils of Christmas and why it should be a holiday to avoid. Unlike all the other holidays this was the hardest of all to give up. I knew I wanted to live on a Paradise earth for all eternity and would do what I had to so I could achieve this goal. I was convinced that because Jesus was not born in Christmas thru new eyesDecember it would be dishonoring Him to recognize His birth on that day. However it never entered my mind to ask why we don’t celebrate it in October. I was taught to believe that the three wise men were men hated by Jehovah. Also Jesus was around two years old when they came, not an infant in a manger. So the whole nativity scene was wrong and to be a part of it would to be a part of a lie. Who is the father of the lie? Satan, so it would be Satan that we would be worshiping. Christmas is being celebrated on the same day as the Sun God thus being connected to pagan worship. I had so many reasons now to avoid this holiday and look down on those that did. I began pitting them for their lack of knowledge, if they only knew the truth. What a horrible holiday!

Soon I became a mother of two and wanted to raise them so that they too would please Jehovah in all they do. Deep inside I struggled and cried in silence as the holidays came. I really wanted to give Christmas to my children, but the consequences were much too high to pay. So I convinced myself that I was doing what was right in Jehovah’s eyes. As the boys entered school I struggled with this secretly in my heart, praying that Jehovah would forgive me for such feelings. When the season approached each year my stomach would get butterflies, I became embarrassed at the response I had to give to: Are you ready for Christmas? I felt like I had to give a response even if I didn’t want to because if I didn’t I would be proving I was embarrassed about being a servant of Jehovah. As the Christmas carols filled the stores with joy and cheer I couldn’t help but wonder how much of Satan’s world am I taking in, after all he is an angel of light. I believed what I had to believe to get by, thus I believed Jesus was Michael the Arch Angel.

One day the truth about Jesus was reveled. Oh what a glorious King He is! King of Kings, Lord of Lords, mighty God, my strength, my Rock, Prince of Peace and my Redeemer!! He is this and so much more, His love is everlasting no conditions. I don’t have to keep working at doing things so as not to fall out of favor with Him. When all else fails He is there for me, He will never leave me stranded, nor neglect me, He will never let me fall. I have come to know the most wonderful person in the universe. I never saw before the majestic power He has and how He uses it guide us along this weary path called life. When I hate myself He loves me still, when I cry He holds each tear because each tear has meaning and value, it belongs to Him. He is gentle with me when I am not. When I am not deserving of Grace, He pours it out on me like refreshing rain on a hot summer day. He is so new and fresh to me, I am tasting Him for the very first time. I can feel His loving arms wrap around my beaten down body. I never before knew the God that I served as a God of compassion and mercy. Who is this one called Jesus and why should He care for me? To know the REAL Jesus is like the river that flows through my veins and brings blood to my heart and life to my soul. I am so overwhelmed by His unconditional love for me. Just to think I have been redeemed is a reality so hard to grasp, yet He gives it without any reservations. For years I have worked so hard and it was never good enough I was never going to have salvation, I would eventually tire out and fade away being left a failure. No more condemnation is the gift that has been given me. If I were the only one on earth Jesus would have still come down and died for me.

So this Christmas season I no longer listen to the lies that I have heard for so long. I now listen to the voice of truth. I am starting my life fresh and new I am starting to live a life that is led by my Savior, my King and my Redeemer.

This is why I choose to celebrate Christmas, to bring glory and honor to the one who is deserving of such praise.

By Sharon Leasure 12/13/13

December 19, 2013 Posted by | Expressions, Watchtower Society | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Christmas Through My Eyes

Lost and Found

Lost and Found by Julie McAllen

As 2013 comes to a close, I am reflecting on the highlights of the year. One that stands out was my trip to Pennsylvania to attend the 35th annual Witnesses Now For Jesus Conference. You are welcome to read about that adventure here: http://4witness.org/put-me-on-a-trip-the-35th-annual-witnesses-now-for-jesus-conference/

Luke 15:10 tells us there is JOY in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents, and that is why going to this conference for FORMER Jehovah’s Witnesses is the highlight of my year. To hear the testimonies of those whom God calls out of darkness and into the light of His kingdom is pure joy.

Why do I rejoice with those angels over each sinner who repents? Because a new creation is now set free to do the work prepared in advance for them (Ephesians 2:8-10). Like a parent of a newborn baby anticipating what that child might become, I love to watch what gifts will be revealed in each new creation of God. The Watchtower has not just lost another slave, the world has gained another gift from above in every newborn child of God. I am thankful for that. 

It was at that conference where I met Sharon, a former member of the Watchtower Society now set free by God’s grace. I liked her right away. I came to know her sense of humor and was thankful there was another kook in the crowd who could appreciate lost dentures and doggie doo doo, but I didn’t know she had the heart of a writer until recently when I read her Christmas memory posted on Facebook. I suggested she get a blog and she replied “what’s a blog?”  Oh dear, she’s been lost selling someone else’s magazines too long, but now she’s found.

With her permission, and my great joy, may I introduce to you my friend and first time blogger, Sharon Maguire Leasure.

Lost by Sharon Maguire Leasure

It was the Christmas of 1967, I was eight years old. I was a huge fan of “Family Affair” where there was a single father raising three chilldren, twins, Buffy and Jody along with their older sister nicknamed Sissy. They had a tough exterior male maid named Mr. French who adored the children even when his patience was running thin. Buffy had a doll who was a grandmother type, with gray hair and granny glasses. Her name was Mrs. Beasley, oh how I wanted that doll! This was the Christmas I got my very own Mrs. Beasley doll. I was so excited it was all that I wanted. By the time all the presents were opened and the wrapping paper was stuffed in trash bags I let out a shrieking scream that only an eight year old girl could make. My dad came running into the room to see me clutching my doll and crying non-stop. I looked up at him and cried, “Mrs. Beasley’s glasses are gone!” BeasleyWell my dad being the loving and caring father that he was immediately took to looking for them. He looks around the room to no avail. Then he glanced over to the six bags of trash, took a deep sigh and then dug in. He took every piece of paper out of the bag and flattened it to make sure those small glasses where not hiding. No glasses. He went on to the next bag and the next until he emptied the sixth bag and there were my dolls glasses. My dad became my hero that day. His actions showed just what a fathers love really means. He didn’t brush it off or scold me; instead he showed patience and grace to a broken hearted little girl that he cherished so very much. Now I am all grown up and as a Christian I look to my heavenly Father who also shows patience and grace to me now. I showed up lost and crying, I brought with me my bags of trash. I brought to Him the bag of insecurities, a bag of doubt, and a bag of worthlessness. I even brought Him a bag of hate and distrust. I had a bag with all these tiny pieces in it that once made up my heart. I gave it to Him, “here you go take it and see what you can find. I know I am in there but I am so lost I may never be found.” Oh what a loving Father. He took each of the bags I gave Him and went through each one as if it were so very fragile. He lifted each piece inside the bag with gentleness as if every piece had value. Then something wonderful happened. Amongst all that trash that He so lovingly took care of was a tiny little bag, it was hidden from sight as if it was never meant to be bothered with. On the bag was a label that read, MY CHILD. Inside the bag was me, He picked me up like a porcelain doll and placed me in the palm of His hands. He said “For there is no one in heaven or on earth that will snatch you from the palm of my hand. You will never again be lost.” John 10:28-29 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.

Thank you to Sharon Maguire Leasure for permission to share this. Thank you to our readers for your encouragement throughout 2013. Thank you and praise to Jesus Christ our reigning Lord, Savior and King who sets hearts free!

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

December 9, 2013 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions, Uncategorized, Watchtower Society | , , , , , | 2 Comments

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