When we believers struggle with the Holy Spirit in our lives, it doesn't mean we're fighting against God- not just against Him, anyway- it also means we're fighting against our own nature. Our war is a spiritual war, according to Ephesians 6:12
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but but against rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."
Our nature as sinful people can't be trusted. On our own, we're weak. Our minds lie to ourselves, telling us we don't need God, we don't need redemption, and we don't need help.
But we do need help. And that help comes in the form of the Holy Spirit.
Over the last 20 years, I've learned a lot about God and Scripture. I learned a lot about Jesus Christ, and the early church in the book of Acts. But one thing I was hardly taught was The Holy Spirit. And the sad part is, i don't think it was intentional.
I think churches today fall into two main camps: those who completely ignore the Spirit's work in believers' lives, and those who overemphasize it to the point where even other believers think they're crazy. There seems to be no middle ground, no in-between. No common sense approach seems to have taken hold.
I'm just now, after 20 years in the faith, realizing that I knew next to nothing about the Holy Spirit. And that shouldn't be the case- certainly not in America.
What then, do we know about the Spirit? What does the Scripture say about Him? What is His role in my life?
Over the last few days, I've been thinking.
Specifically, I've been thinking about what my life's purpose is. There's plenty of things tied into this, but the majority of it boils down to this:
If you had to define your existence with one driving statement of purpose, what would it be?
If you don't know, what are you waiting for?
And this is where I found myself after years of floating, like a leaf in the wind. I realized I had no real, solid purpose. I mean, sure, I had "purpose" but I couldn't tell you exactly what it was. "Following God" only gets you so far, as that could look like any number of things. "Loving your neighbor" could be me, sitting on my couch, invisibly loving people from afar. What does "helping people" look like? Specifically, for me? What does "Love the Lord your God with all your heart" look like, for me?
What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ? What does it mean, what does it require? I spent some time this weekend contemplating on what I needed to do, at the very least, to say I'm actively living out my faith.
What are the basic tenets of Christian Faith? What is non-negotiable? Your mind may be swimming with ideas of charity, piety, prayers, who knows.
The first place we should be looking for an example of living out the Christian Faith is Christ Himself.
I've narrowed down the most crucial responsibilities of the Believer to these three things:
Now, we're supposed to act out our faith in deeds as well, but for building the foundation of our faith, these three are it. The "Building Blocks," as it were.
There are tons of websites, books, and shows about self-improvement. It's a billion-dollar business. Everywhere you look, there's ads for someone offering to help you become a better person.
Is this what God really wants of us?
We know that God can use the weak things of the world to defeat the strong. We know he uses the simple things to confound the world's wisdom. So where is there room for us to want to become stronger, wiser, and better?
I know it sounds preposterous at first. "Why would God not want us to become stronger?" But there are people who, by their actions, believe exactly that. They have become so weak, that they fear any kind of strength.
David, the second King of Israel, was a strong, fighting man. And yet, we see how God used not David's strength, but his devotion, to defeat his enemies. Does that mean it was wrong for him to be a strong fighter? Certainly not! It is who God intended David to be. David's strength was useful in all areas of his life, not just the battlefield. And in the end, he still had to fight battles.
One of the interesting things about training to become stronger is that you have to come to grips with how weak you currently are. You can't focus on eliminating weakness unless you can spot it. This applies to mental and spiritual weakness as well! And everyone- everyone- has weakness.
Is Weakness Bad?
Why don't I post more about politics?
Simply put, I dislike politics, politicians, and the government in general. I don't like hearing people's opinions on it, I can't stand reading about all the stupidity that Washington D.C. propagates, and it infuriates me to think about voting for a President when I know none of the people applying for the job are who I'd want to run the country.
It gets pretty discouraging, really. In America, our political system is corrupted from top to bottom, and it's not going to just suddenly fix itself. When you remove morals from everything, what you get is a disgusting mess. People waving around handfuls of excrement, shouting "look how progressive we are!" and nobody believes it.
Really, this is nothing new. Compared to the Roman Empire, America isn't even a flash in the pan. Back then, corruption was worse, morals and ethics were worse, death and destruction were worse, the economy was worse... everything about life sucked more than it does now.
Today, we don't have it that bad. Even with all the "horrible" things going on, we still live in the lap of luxury compared to most places, then or now.
I believe that God expects us to physically take care of our bodies.
I also believe God expects us to seek Him, first and foremost.
When I first met God I didn't understand a lot about theology, prayer, or the Great Commission. I just knew I was a sinner in need of forgiveness. As I grew and learned, I came to struggle with a lot of things in my life that were causing me (and my friends) to stumble. I gradually changed a lot of my habits, and learned how to walk closer to how Jesus walked- not that I'm an expert, mind you.
I didn't get interested in my health until about 5 or 6 years ago. Before that, I was overweight, out of shape, and a typical Cajun guy. I ate everything fried, double helpings, with tons of sugar and junk on the side. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, borderline diabetic. I felt like crap and my mental health began to suffer because of my self-inflicted physical hardships.
Sometimes life just clips along, and we merrily go through it, paying no mind to anything. We're the happy center of our own universe, and nothing matters except what's immediately in front of us.
And then there are days where you come face to face with the reaper, and you realize you're just a single breath away from eternity.
This past week, a guy at work died of cancer. He only knew about it 2 months before he succumbed to it. I've known other people who were diagnosed with and died of cancer within 2 weeks. Two Weeks.
So what's the point of it all, if we're just dust? If we're such insignificant specks in the flotsam of the universe, why do we even bother?
v. To destroy completely; ruin: "schemes to subvert the liberties of a great community” (Alexander Hamilton).
v. To undermine the character, morals, or allegiance of; corrupt.
v. To overthrow completely.
Whether we like it or not, we live in a world filled with subversion. Everywhere we go, people want to undermine common sense in order to warp reality to fit their own ends.
Specifically, I'm talking about definition #2: "To undermine the character, morals, or allegiance of; corrupt."
You have to understand that in order for morals and character to be undermined, there have to be morals and character there to begin with. You can't subvert or corrupt something that doesn't exist.
I'm a really lousy supervillain.
No really, I am. I haven't taken over a single country. Not even a city. I haven't robbed any banks, and I haven't defeated any self-righteous heroes with orphan complexes. My minions are more interested in Korean soap operas and Barbies than doing my dark bidding. I still don't have any orbiting laser satellites or nuclear bombs.
So what's a supervillain to do? My grandiose plans for World Domination just aren't coming to fruition. Every day that I don't achieve some new feat, I feel like a failure.
But I've come to realize, these are lies I tell myself.
The truth is, I've accomplished quite a bit, according to anybody's standards. Nothing that would make the ten-o'clock news, but still, I'd like to think I'm more than just a regular guy with no ambition. I've actually got some things to show for my work. But the danger comes when I tie my self-worth into what I've done, and not who I am.
What makes me valuable as a person?
I hate sleep. And much for the same reasons, I love coffee (and caffiene in general).
But try as I might, I can't shake the fact that I need sleep. I need rest. And I'm not comfortable with that, really. I always feel like I'm missing out on something. I'm always thinking about some cool project, idea, story, song, or something I'd like to have time to work on. I feel empowered when I accomplish things, and God has gifted me with the ability to do some amzaing things. Like being a dad, a writer, a musician, an inventor, an avid cyclist, etc.
Lately, I'm beginning to believe that when God commanded man to rest on the Sabbath, it applied to more than just one day a week.
God knows we are made to be workers. We are innately capable of working tirelessly if the proper motivations are in place. For years, I was ridiculed and singled out by my school teachers for being "lazy" because I didn't give a rip about history or math. Or homework. The truth was, as a genius-level child, I was bored to tears. I hated homework because I generally got the concepts and understood them fully in class. I didn't want to practice something I already knew. I was ready to move on to something more exciting! I was the farthest thing from lazy, but they couldn't understand that.