Monthly Archives: June 2021

Fruit of Goodness – Wed – 21-06-30

Have you ever read a self-improvement book? Some of the current titles are Self-Love Workbook for Women, Good Vibes, Good Life, and the classic How to Win Friends and Influence People. I did some research on Amazon and found there are 80,000 titles in the Self Help category. Wow! People really want to improve themselves!

And, people have been interested in self-improvement for quite a while. Did you know the very first self-improvement book in modern times was a book titled Self-Help written by Samuel Smiles and published in 1859. That’s before the U.S. Civil War.1

The market for self-improvement is huge! If you include books, other products, and seminars by motivational speakers, the market in the United States is $11 billion.2 Like I said, people want to improve themselves. But think about it – is the market so big because all those books work, or is it big because people keep trying different things that don’t work? I wonder. Rather than self-improvement, maybe we need power from outside ourselves.

2 Thessalonians 1:11 says, “With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.”(NIV) If we want to develop goodness, then we need God’s power — his Spirit. He is the source of improvement in our character!

  1. “Self-help book,” Wikipedia, last updated October 22, 2020,
  2. “The U.S. Market for Self-improvement Products & Services, 2003-2023 – Market Size & Growth, Trends, In-Depth Profiles of 60 Top Motivational Speakers, List of the Top 100 Infomercials,” Research And Markets, March 3, 2020,

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Episodes for July 4 Week

I’ve scheduled the episodes for next week. The theme is the fruit of the Spirit called faithfulness. Aren’t you glad God is faithful?! Ever wonder how Alzheimer’s and Olympic athletes can illustrate faithfulness? Be sure to listen to find out!

Fruit of Goodness – Tue – 21-06-29

Many years ago, we used to start our tomato plants from seed. We’d plant them is a small, shallow box filled with potting soil. We’d then transplant them to peat pots after they had sprouted and started their second set of true leaves. Crucial to all the effort was having a good light that simulated sunlight. Without the light, the seeds would sprout, but they never grew much before they died.

What would life be like if we had no light? At the beginning of almost every food chain, light is consumed by plants. Animals then eat plants, and may in turn be eaten by other animals. It all depends on light! There must be a lot of significance to the fact that one of God’s early acts of creation was to say, “Let there be light!”

Likewise, the spiritual change wrought when we become Christians is described in terms of light. Ephesians 5:8 through the first part of verse 10 says, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.”

Notice that one of the fruits of light in this verse is goodness – an inner character of moral excellence. This echoes Jesus’ saying in Matthew 5:14-16 that we are the light of the world and our good deeds shine forth that light.

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Fruit of Goodness – Mon – 21-06-28

Do you like avocados? My wife and I buy them each week. Sometimes it is difficult to pick out a good one. It may look big and have no blemishes, but when we cut it open, it is filled with brown and soft areas. So, we’ve learned to look at different signs to determine a good avocado — such as color, shape, skin texture, firmness and the stem.

I’m sure you also know how to pick out good fruits and vegetables. You’ve learned to look for certain traits or signs. It not only applies to the produce, but the plant or tree bearing the produce. A good source produces good fruit. Jesus understood this. He applied this principle to recognizing false prophets. In Matthew 7:17 he said, “Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”(NIV)

Our actions, whether good or evil, are produced by what is within us. I think this is why the Holy Spirit works to produce goodness within us – so we can do the good things God has prepared for us to do, as Ephesians 2:10 says. Also, as people see our good actions, they will know our moral center is not like some mushy avocado! They will see that Jesus is the source of the moral excellence of our characters and of the good deeds we perform!

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Fruit of Goodness – Sun – 21-06-27

This week we are focusing on the fruit of the Spirit called goodness.

We often use the word good to describe people or things.  You know the phrases, “he’s a good player,” “this is good food,” and “she’s a good doctor.” So, what does it mean to describe something as “good”? When applied to people, it often describes someone who is excellent in their position. For instance, if I say a doctor is “good,” I mean he or she is excellent in providing medical care. Likewise, if I describe a football player as “good,” I mean he is excellent in his existing position. For example, Patrick Mahomes and  Tom Brady are excellent at the position of quarterback. 

When used of things, the word good often means beneficial or profitable. So, good food not only has a pleasing taste, it is also beneficial — as opposed to junk food. If someone describes an investment as good, they mean it will be profitable.

So, what is goodness? Does it mean the Holy Spirit is working to make us excellent in our position? Or to make us profitable? No. You see we use the word good in another way meaning virtuous or upright. If you say “he’s a good man” or “she’s a good woman,” you refer to their moral excellence. This is what the Spirit produces in us. He works to transform our character, to make us good from the inside out.

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Father Figures – Sat – 21-06-26

Bennie was born in 18701 over the mountain from Gatlinburg Tennessee. His mother wasn’t married, which was a major scandal in those days. This social stigma made life difficult for Bennie. As he said:

“When I started to school my classmates had a name for me, and it wasn’t a very nice name. I used to go off by myself at recess and during lunch-time because the taunts of my playmates cut so deeply. What was worse was going downtown on Saturday afternoon and feeling every eye burning a hole through you. They were all wondering just who my real father was.”

When Bennie was 12 he had a preacher tell him “You are a son of God. Boy you’ve got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.”

Bennie said, “That was the most important single sentence ever said to me.”2 It helped him overcome the stigma of his unwed birth. He eventually graduated college and became a lawyer. Bennie, as an adult, was known as Ben Hooper. Twice he was elected as Governor of Tennessee. All propelled by a man who encouraged him like father to claim his inheritance.

Serving in the fatherhood role is not always based on biology. Often Step-fathers, fathers-in-law and father figures are the ones who encourage us in life. Take a moment today to say thank you to the father figures in your life.

  1. Ben W. Hooper, Wikipedia, last updated April, 29, 2021,
  2. “Father,” Sermon Illustrations,, quoting Jamie Buckingham, Power for Living

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Fathers, Don’t Provoke – Fri – 21-06-25

Have you seen any old movies about medieval knights in Europe? You know, the ones who rode around in heavy metal armor and had jousting contests? They lived in a very structured social order based on chivalry and honor. If you wanted to pick a fight with another knight, you simply rode up on your horse and threw your glove of metal armor on the ground. You were essentially challenging the other person to combat. The act was such an insult to the other knight’s honor, he was compelled to accept the challenge and fight. This practice is where we get the phrase “throw down the gauntlet.” It was the so-called “civilized” way to pick a fight.

Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”(NIV) The word exasperate is often translated “provoke to anger.”

So, what does this mean? Does it mean fathers are never supposed to have angry children? Not hardly! Teens and children may be angry because they didn’t get what they wanted. Their selfishness may be the root of the anger, not the father’s actions. No, this passage is saying fathers should not pick a fight. Fathers should not “throw down the gauntlet.” They should not insult their children or intentionally irritate their children to anger.

Instead, dads, focus on teaching your children about God and how to live a godly life.

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Heavenly Father – Thu – 21-06-24

You know, God has revealed himself with many titles and roles. He is Creator of the universe, the Law Giver, our Redeemer and Provider. The Bible addresses him as Almighty, God Most High, Everlasting God, Lord, Master, Lord of Hosts and My Shepherd. And there are additional phrases as well. But one of the most important ways God reveals himself is as our heavenly Father. Jesus taught his disciples a model prayer. It began with the words “our Father.” In fact, seeing God as father is so important, that the Holy Spirit testifies that God is our daddy. Yes, you heard me correctly, daddy.

Listen to Romans 8:15-16, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” In the original language, the word Abba is the equivalent of “daddy” in English.

Think of how small children delight in their father’s attention. See how relaxed and safe they feel on his lap. How trusting they are and delighted when he gives them a treat to eat! When they are tired, they want to be lifted on his shoulders and carried.

God wants us to experience the same delight, confidence, dependency and trust. That’s why the Spirit testifies that we are the children of God. Take a moment to pray to your heavenly Father.

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Father’s Stories – Wed – 21-06-23

I remember my father telling stories about growing up in the Ozark Mountains. It was even more fun when he would get together with Grandma or Aunt Ella and they would reminisce together. I heard of adventures like trying to ride a goat, or capturing a buzzard, or lassoing a rattlesnake or discovering an old moonshine barrel — in case you’re wondering the barrel was empty, but they rolled it down the mountain for fun!

Hearing stories is a lot of fun for a child. I know my Dad also enjoyed telling them. Did you know the Bible tells fathers they should share stories with their children and grandchildren? Deuteronomy 4:9 says, “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”

But I should note that this command is not just to tell any old story. In the passage, Moses was telling the Israelites to tell their children about all the miraculous things God had done and about the commandments he had given them to observe. So, fathers tell your children the stories from the Bible and how God has worked in your life. Teach them to follow Jesus. They’ll love hearing you tell stories! I think you’ll also love telling them the stories of God too!

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Father’s Impact – Tue – 21-06-22

We all know that fathers have an impact on their children. But what is the impact and how do fathers express it? This was actually researched by Drs. Peter Gray and Kermyt Anderson. Here are some of the findings from a study they published in October of 2015:

  • In the U.S., having no father listed on the birth certificate increases the odds of infant mortality.
  • As children grow, having a father who is present and engaged with his children positively impacts their social competence, IQ and education.
  • On the other hand, when fathers are absence, their children have an increased risk of dropping out of school, lower educational attainment, poorer physical and mental health, and more behavioral problems.1

Notice that the impact is positive when the father is present and engaged. What we should be asking is “what does engaged mean?”

It reminds me of the story of Charles Francis Adams. One day he wrote in his diary the following: “Went fishing with my son today–a day wasted.” On the very same day, his son wrote this in his diary: “Went fishing with my father–the most wonderful day of my life!”2

I want to encourage the fathers listening to spend time with your children today. Don’t be like Charles Adams who considered it a waste of time. You have a tremendous influence on your child’s life and development.

  1. Peter B. Gray, PhD, Kermyt G. Anderson, PhD, “The Impact of Fathers on Children,” Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Development, October 2015,
  2. “Father,” Sermon Illustrations,, quoting Silas Shotwell, in Homemade, September, 1987. 

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Honor Fathers – Mon – 21-06-21

Unfortunately, fatherhood has been under attack in our culture for decades. In 1986, William Bennett wrote “Where are the fathers? . . . Generally, the mothers are there struggling. For nine out of ten children in single parent homes, the father is the one who isn’t there. One-fifth of all American children live in homes without fathers . . . Where are the fathers? Where are the men? Wherever they are, this much is clear: too many are not with their children.”1

That was 35 years ago. Things are worse today. Some estimate that half of children grow up without their fathers present.

 What we need is to value fathers and fatherhood more.  Imagine how different society would be if more children experienced the type of fathers that Paul Harvey wrote about in “What are Fathers Made of?” Here are a couple of things he wrote:

  • “A father is a thing that is forced to endure childbirth without an anesthetic.”
  • “A father is a thing that growls when it feels good–and laughs very loud when it’s scared half to death.”
  • “Fathers are what give daughters away to other men who aren’t nearly good enough so they can have grandchildren who are smarter than anybody’s.”2

We need to go beyond Ephesians 6:2, which says, “Honor your father and mother.” We need to honor all fathers. Today, send an encouraging message to a good father you see.

  1. “Father,” Sermon Illustrations,,  quoting J. Dobson and G. Bauer, Children at Risk, Word, 1990, p. 167.
  2. “Father,” Sermon Illustrations,, quoting Paul Harvey.

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