Stop Spinning

How do you fly this thing?-old-fighter-plane_gyrm-wk_

The standard question in the days after Christmas is: ”Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas?” I’m to the point in my life where I don’t care so much what, if anything, I get for gifts for Christmas. Yes it’s nice to get things, mostly because it means a lot to me that someone cared enough to make the effort, but to me I cherish much more the time spent with people I love, time is always a priceless gift.

And, if you’re like me, you probably get a lot more satisfaction out of being able to bless someone else with a special gift. That’s something that’s drilled into our heads as kids: “It’s better to give than to receive!” But seriously, how many of you when you were say; 10 years old, really believed that? How many nights did you lie awake dreaming of what you were going to find under the tree on Christmas morning, or start pestering your parents weeks before your birthday to make sure they knew exactly what you wanted for your special day.

That sense of excitement and anticipation is something you never forget and have a hard time replicating as an adult, where reality replaces fantasy and Santa Claus gives you the bill. But what a joy it is to help make holidays special for others, especially kids, not just with presents but by building traditions and memories that kids will treasure forever. The presents may soon lose their luster but the time you spent with them never will.

Cox

Speaking of toys that lose their luster. How many of you are old enough to remember the old Cox gasoline engine toys? Little scale model cars and planes that had little gas powered motors— great toys for little boys. The cars and trucks you just started up and set them down to watch them scream on until they crashed into something, no control whatsoever.

Then there was the planes. I remember walking through a department store with my Dad and seeing a P-51 Mustang  with WW II army paint and telling him, “That’s what I want for my birthday.” No doubt about it—he wasn’t so sure, a 12 inch long airplane with an internal combustion engine tied to a string didn’t strike him as the best toy for a kid turning 11 years old, and it was kind of expensive.

But sure enough, on my birthday, while visiting my Dad in Minnesota, I got my brand new Cox P-51 Mustang. I was thrilled beyond words and I couldn’t wait to try it out. I had to wait a few days till we could find a big empty parking lot that would make a sufficient airfield. So we break out the big bad airplane, squirt the fuel into the little bitty gas tank and start spinning the prop with a finger; Brbrbr, brbrbrr brbrbr—nothing, prime it again- Brbrbr, Brbrbr, Brbrbr Rmmmm, sputter Brbrbr. We did this for what seemed like forever until finally it roared to life.

Now the concept of the infamous Cox model airplanes was that you flew the plane on the end of about 30 feet of string, two strings tied to a handle which served as your control. If you moved your hand one way if would make the flaps go up and if you moved the other way it would make the flaps go down, making your plane go up or down.

And of course the only way you could do this was to stand in one spot and fly your plane around in a big circle until your plane ran out of fuel and you gracefully glided it in for a landing.

So while my Dad held on to my now running airplane I ran to my control handle carefully laid out thirty feet away, and my Dad lets go of the plane, as I skillfully manipulate the flaps sending my little P-51 about 15 feet into the air. Now these little gas powered things really cruise which means to keep up with it you have to start spinning in circles as this things flies around you on the end of your marionette style strings.

This is all good and well until you get dizzy. I don’t know how many times I spun around in circles but I was dizzy long before the plane ran out of fuel and I lost control causing my plane to make a very ugly emergency landing— a crash in layman’s terms. The plane was a little scuffed up but still intact and, as my head stopped spinning, we packed up my plane and went home.

Gee, that wasn’t near as fun as I thought it would bemaybe next time. A few weeks later back home in New Mexico I grabbed my best buddie and off we went with my treasured plane to the paved school yard determined to conquer the skies over the Land of Enchantment.

I fueled her up, spun the prop, Brbrbr, brbrbrsputter, sputter— this went on forever. I’ll bet it was a good 45 minutes before we finally got it to start, and keep, running. When it did my buddie held the plane while I ran to grab the controls determined to not let myself get dizzy this time but before I knew it I was wobbling and my plane was going up and down, higher and higher with each pass as I was losing all control of myself and my plane until it just nosedived into the asphalt.

That was the end of my pilot career. My precious P-51 was broken into several pieces. I literally spent years—it still crosses my mind now and then— wondering; “How in the world are you supposed to fly one of these things without getting dizzy?!” I still haven’t figure it out.

Maybe no one did, that might be why you don’t see them anymore.

Thots

Apply that to a church—how do you fly one of these things without getting dizzy? I hope I’m doing better with my church. How do you pastor one of these things without getting dizzy? Well, I guess the short answer is, stop spinning in circles. Most would argue you can’t do that with a Cox model plane or with a church, but the Lord tells me otherwise— at least with the church.

Preparing my sermon for the week—the first of the new year, a time when I like to look ahead at the year and seek the Lord for guidance, maybe a theme for the coming year— I was reminded of this scripture from Psalms:

Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
the guard keeps watch in vain.
Psalm 127

I can’t control this thing for very long any more than I could control that airplane for more than a few rounds, it’s beyond me, it’s supposed to be beyond me—it’s supposed to be Jesus— he is the pilot, and he has state of the art radio controls that allow him to fly this plane anywhere he desires—if we’ll just cut those strings and let it fly.

Most churches struggle with that, most pastors are afraid to do that, and I contend that is why most pastors at some point crash—trust me when I say this, I have witnessed it over and over again many times, they are getting dizzy and crashing, left and right.

We strive to be a Spirit led church— not program driven, not agenda driven. The Lord has given me an overall vision and direction for this ministry but the only way to be true to that is to follow Jesus step by step and day by day. Otherwise we will spend all our time planning and scheming and then stressing over implementing our plans.

Yes we need to do some planning but our plans must always fit into the mission the Lord has given me for our church to be a place of healing, restoration and hope, and all our plans have to be brought before the Lord in prayer and for guidance and wisdom.

Of course the best plans are the ones that develop as a result of the Lord planting something in our hearts.  In that case, more often than not, it’s a matter of being ready, and patient, at the same time, as the Lord works to bring his plans into fruition while we are ready to move when he says move.

Where is he taking you? Let go of the strings and just follow.

 

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Waiting to Inhale

“As I lay there on my back I wondered if I would ever breathe again…”

The world is messed up but still we sing Hallelujah because we have hope, we have Jesus. We know our Savior has come—that is what we celebrate in this Holy season. And what a joyous time it is knowing that the promised one has come—though there is still a lot of pain in the world, we have hope because the  breath of life has come. We no longer have to wonder and wait, we simply have to trust and believe.

Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? 
Vintage frame from tall trees covered with snowEver been hit so hard that you couldn’t breathe for a while? If you’ve played sports like Football, soccer or hockey there’s a good chance you’ve experienced this— and it’s not fun.

I know I have experienced this a few times, the most memorable and scariest being while sledding—sledding and trees don’t mix. It was fun watching the kids—and Charlie—sledding when we went on our annual Christmas tree outing a couple weeks ago and I thought it was actually kind of a good thing that the lack of snow on the hill we usually use was bereft of snow, inspiring us to find a hill with snow on it, because the new spot we found wasn’t lined with trees like the other one.

Trees scare me. Back in the winter of ’79— a year that Montana set all kinds of records for snowfall and cold— I was in the Anaconda Job Corps Center. The Job Corp center was actually a few miles out of Anaconda in the Pintlar mountains.  One of the things we like to do to combat cabin fever during those long winter months was grab some sleds and head out into the hills behind our dorms in search of the craziest sledding adventure we could find.

Some of my buddies and I decided that the lower part of the mountain where the trees had been cleared to make way for the football and track field below was not nearly long enough so we went high up into the trees with snow shovels to create a zigzagged course through the trees, complete with banked curves and ice covered straightaways.

We spent days on this and it was like an Olympic bobsled track when we were done. I watched a few of my buddies fly through the course at break neck speeds and come out at the bottom hootin’ and hollerin’ for joy— what a rush! It looked kinda scary to me, there’s an awful lot of really big trees lining this course.

Of course being 17 years old and surrounded by other 17 and 18 year-olds I wasn’t about to say I was too scared to go down the hill. I mean; if they can do it then certainly I can! The fear just adds to the rush, right?

What I didn’t consider was that I was bigger than the guys who had gone down before me and that with each pass the track had become slicker. I was also probably the least athletic, I mean growing up in Minnesota I played hockey by aiming myself at a group of players fighting over the puck and plowing into them like they were bowling pins so I could come away with the puck—I had to plow into them because I didn’t know how to stop.

But anyway, a few winters and a thousand miles removed from those Minnesota skating rinks I now find myself on a mountain side in western Montana holding a sled. So I get a running start and belly flop onto the plastic sled, and with an unwanted extra push by a couple of my companions, I am suddenly flying down the scariest sledding hill in the history of modern man—at least the scariest one I have ever seen.

I make the first corner to the left, the second corner to the right and am flying straight at a sharply banked corner that will take me to the left again—except instead of the bank shooting me around the corner it becomes a ramp that shoots me straight into the air and into the trees. I hit the ground still on my sled, not good news, because before I have time to react I am looking at the quickly approaching trunk of a huge Ponderosa pine, a fine sturdy specimen of the Montana state tree.

I don’t know how fast I was going but it was way too fast to be running head first into a tree. All I had time to do was push myself up off my belly with my arms and lean my head to the left so that I hit that tree chest first instead of head first— which surely would have killed me.

Instead I bounced back like a crazed dog who hit the end of his chain after forgetting that he was tied up when the mail man walked by. And there I lay, on my back staring up at the grey winter sky framed by the evil snow covered pine trees that had conspired to kill me.

As I lay there all the air was slowly leaving my body with a very embarrassing moaning sound. I had the air knocked out of me—literally— and I couldn’t get it back.

I looked it up the other day and found out, through the miracle of the internet, that what happens when you get the air knocked out of you is that your diaphragm spasms, leaving you unable to inhale for usually about 3 minutes until your nervous system kicks into emergency backup mode and overrides your diaphragm’s trauma and refusal to cooperate.

All I knew at the time was that I really, really hurt and I couldn’t breathe. It wasn’t long before I was surrounded by my buddies looking at me and wondering why I was making this strange noise while asking me if I was all right. Of course I couldn’t respond—I couldn’t even breathe! But even though what I am sure was all, and perhaps more of, that 3 minute average of diaphragm meltdown, I knew that eventually I would be able to draw a breath, I had hope, because I had been there before.

As a kid in Minnesota I had gone down a very steep hill on one of those insane aluminum flying saucer sleds, the ones that like to spin around backwards leaving you flying down the hill unable to see where you are going. On this occasion I had slid blindly into a tree, another big ole pine tree, slamming into it back first leaving me sitting there with my back still against that tree, making that same stupid noise as all the air left my body for what seemed an eternity.

But before I had died of suffocation I had been able to start breathing again so I had hope that once again, after another unprovoked attack by a large pine tree that I would breathe again. And I did, eventually, after losing more air than I thought was humanly possible to hold, I was able to breath in again and finally roll over onto my hands and knees and regain my feet and my dignity.

I think I cracked a rib as I was sore for weeks afterwards but I lived. Breathing is such a wonderful thing.

 Thots

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20

There was a popular movie in the 90’s called Waiting to Exhale; forget exhaling, we need to inhale! For millennia the world was waiting to be able to inhale again. To breath in the life giving Spirit of God, the breath of life that had been lost in the garden when Adam and Eve decided to disobey God losing the eternal life of fellowship with him that he had created them to have.

The world had been waiting, God kept telling them in various ways and at various times; ‘I have a plan, one will come who will restore that life, who will breathe life once again into your dying souls.’ But it seemed like it would never happen; “How long can I just keep losing air, how long can I hold on until it’s just too late, when all hope is lost?”

And then he came, a Savior restoring life—literally breathing life into his people once again just as he had when he breathed life into Adam and he became a living being, Jesus breathed life into his followers and they once again became living beings, born again, made alive by his Holy Spirit. Fellowship with God was restored. Hope is here.

All of us have trials, times when we think; “Lord, when will this end, how long can I hang on? I don’t know how much more I can take, when will  my eyes see my salvation? When will I be able to draw a breath?”

As I lay on that mountain side terrified as all the air was leaving my body and every cell in my body was screaming for air my brain was telling me—“Don’t give up, you will breathe again, remember that time when you were 8 and you thought you were done for? You weren’t.”

—I had hope.

That’s what you have, hope, and hope is everything because that hope is named Jesus and hope never disappoints us. The same God that created in us a nervous system emergency override mechanism to kick start our diaphragms again even after we do something so dumb as to fly head first down a mountain into the trees, that same God who got me breathing again on that mountain is the same God who is now asking you to trust him, you will get through this, you are safe in his arms and he will never let you go!

He never leaves us hopeless, he never leaves us forsaken, he will never leave you to perish in despair. Sometimes the wait seems too long, like those three minutes on my back, or the two thousand years that the church has been awaiting the return of our Savior to put an end once and for all to all the pain in this world, but in the perspective of the eternity we will have with our Lord—it is just a flash.

You will breathe again, the ribs might hurt for a while but even that will heal. Our Redeemer lives, hope lives on.

Just as the my body interceded and restored life giving breath that cold winter evening while I lay on my back moaning after my sled wreck, so Jesus intercedes for us and gives us life. He will not leave us hopeless and forsaken, the wind has been restored.

Merry Christmas

Ransomed

 

I love the old Christmas Hymn; O Come O Come Emmanuel
and ransom captive Israel… To me it captures the spirit of where the world—were even my own heart was—before I recognized the significance of the one who had come on that lonely dark night in a sheep shelter so long ago, the one who would grow up and announce:

“…the Son of Man did not combethlehem-christmas-large-stare to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mat 20:28

For generations, From Adam and Eve to Noah, Job to Abraham, Joseph to Moses, Joshua to David, Esther to Ruth, Isaiah to John the Baptist, people waited in expectation for their redemption, longed to see the promised salvation, the end of the curse, the end of the reign of evil on this earth and in the hearts of man—they waited for the Messiah, the anointed one to come and ransom those who longed for his coming.

Then he came, humble and riding on the foal of a donkey, a son of a carpenter born in a sheep shelter with no witnesses or fanfare save for a few shepherds with a fantastic story about Angels appearing out of nowhere, in the middle of nowhere. He came and proclaimed himself the way, the truth and the life and he opened the door to heaven—he did more than open it, he blew it open— and let the light, his light, flood the hearts of all who looked up to see it, of all who look to him. The world at last was ransomed, not just Israel, but all of us who would deign to walk through that door.

We were no longer left in the dark to wonder what lie beyond the door, who held the keys, or where the door even was. The truth has set us free and invited us in.

 

Back in August Donna and I took a long weekend to run away and relax. The first night we rented a cabin up at Silver Gate, on the edge of Yellowstone Park. We arrived in Silver Gate in the evening and stopped at the general store there that doubles as the check in counter. We got our key and directions to our cabin about a half mile away, and got settled in.  It was a beautiful evening and I went out and sat in one of the chairs they had set up in front of our cabin and just soaked up the quiet.

Soon Donna came out and sat with me and we watched the sky darken over the mountains and enjoyed the cool mountain air, that is until it started to sprinkle. Time to go in. Guess what?- the door is locked. “Where’s the key?- I don’t have it, I left it on the table— why is the door even locked— I don’t know, I guess it’s just always locked.”

“Let’s go check the window.” We walk around to the side window, the only window, which is open, except for the screen which is screwed into a wooden frame. And sitting there on the table, just two feet away from us in our brightly lit, snug and dry cabin, sits the key to the front door. I can see no way to get the screen loose without wrecking something.

Well, we could drive back to the general store and get another key, except, the Durango is locked and the keys are sitting on the table right next to the cabin key. Can’t even sit in the car to get out of the rain. “Can we call someone? No, my phone is in the car and we don’t have service here anyway.”

So here we stand, in the drizzle, staring into the cabin through the window just trying to wish our way into the cabin— it looks so nice in there, sure wish we were in there! The guy at the store had told us they closed at 9:00 and it was just about 9:00.

So I have this little dialogue going on in my head, only you guys can relate to this:

I can walk to the store but even if I get lucky and there is someone still there by the time I get there, I will feel like a fool. I could cut this screen with my pocket knife in a heartbeat and be inside— but then I would have to pay for the damages. We could just sleep on the front porch— no, Donna would never go for that. She wants me to go to the cabin next door and ask for help— that’s even more embarrassing and what are they going to do, give us a cup of hot cocoa and a blanket?

Time to man up— After a few very long minutes of standing there in the rain looking longingly at our keys sitting in the nice warm cabin I announce that I am going to walk to the store and hope for the best. I screw my old cowboy hat down tight and head up the road leaving Donna on the deck under the awning— at least she’s out of the rain.

I get to the store and find the clerk standing on the porch having a smoke and visiting with a local— great, another witness to my embarrassment— and feeling like the consummate stupid tourist, but real glad he is still there I announce; “Guess what I did!” Without missing a beat he says’ locked yourself out didn’t you.” The bearded mountain man local snickers and I give him my best ‘whatever’ look and follow the clerk into the store where he hands me another key saying; “It happens all the time.”

I walk back to the cabin—now the hero and very relieved—and unlock the door to our little log sanctuary that suddenly feels like a little piece of heaven and I promptly put the key in my pocket.

Thots

That’s what the world felt like for all those years before Jesus came; standing in the dark damp night looking in through a little window just wishing you could figure out how to get in, wondering how much trouble you will be in if you try to force it, wondering if it’s too late to get help, wishing you could call out and get help. The minutes of hopelessness and despair seem like forever and then one day, help arrives and opens the door.

That help is Jesus and we were the ones standing in the dark.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. John 10:7,8

The story of the world longing for rescue isn’t just some vague long ago notion of the ancient world longing for the Messiah, we have all been there. Every heart that has ever wondered if there is a God, if there is a heaven and; ‘How do I get there? Do I have a purpose, what is the way, what is the truth?’ And then somehow, somewhere you had an encounter with Jesus and he whispered to your heart these words:

I am the way, the truth and the life— just believe. There are no real words to explain what happens in a heart at that moment, but it is a wonderful thing. And that’s why we celebrate the coming of the Savior, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

If you have not yet experienced the coming of your Savior- “Behold I stand at the door and knock” -Just open up your heart and let him in.

Merry Christmas

 

“By the grace of God I am what I am”

 

Theremanger-1024x580website2’s a verse that has been on my mind lately, because of Christmas coming and because I just had a new grandson born to me this week, and another grandchild coming within weeks—maybe days.

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Gal 4:4,5

But there’s another verse that kept coming to mind also, one that actually says quite the opposite of what we just read about Jesus being born at just the right time— The one about the Apostle Paul being untimely or abnormally born. I guess what struck me was that even the Apostle Paul wrestled with thinking that God’s timing was a challenge to understand and was seemingly bemoaning the fact that he might have been spared a lot that he had to repent of if he had been born again sooner.

 last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.  1 Cor 15:9,10 NKJ

What Paul seems to be missing—at least if we just take that statement at face value— is that it is exactly because of all that he had to repent of, all that he had done in the past that he was ashamed of, that he deeply regretted and was now forgiven of— that the gift of graced that allowed him to be forgiven, was all the more appreciated specifically because he did know the depths of his grievous trespasses. Because he knew how wrong he was and how far he had gone from the truth of God’s word and ways, he was now passionate about that grace and wanted nothing more than to share it with the world.

He saw the light and it was all the more brilliant because of the depths of darkness that had consumed his heart. He was one who had been forgiven much so he loved much. He realized that even though he thought he had a clear cut mission before— to destroy the heretical Jesus followers—he had been hopelessly lost, he had been floundering for years.

Floundering

As believers we’ve all been there. We all floundered for a time, stumbling in the dark, not sure why were are here or where we are going. We may have chosen a path, set our jaw and gone full steam ahead, like Paul before he discovered his purpose, before he had his eyes opened to the truth of Jesus Christ, quite literally in fact as he actually saw the resurrected Lord and was blinded as a result, but later had his sight restored and with that he was given a new life, a new purpose. He discovered his place in Christ. He was born again into the Kingdom, in his words; as one abnormally born.

In Paul’s mind he was chosen last of all the other apostles because he was least deserving. He had been one who, while he was still stumbling in the dark, was actually persecuting the church, seeking with every resource he had to destroy the young church by killing every believer in Jesus if he had to.

Yet in God’s time—in the fullness of time you could say—Paul, by his own admission, worked harder than anyone to spread the good news that had so radically changed his perception and life. He felt he owed it to his Lord, that he had been so lost, so wrong, so evil in his zeal to destroy every last vestige of this fledgling faith in a resurrected Nazarene— that he devoted all his remaining days, facing danger and hardship at every turn, to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Yet Paul would be the first to say, in fact he said it many times, that he didn’t work so hard to earn his salvation; salvation is a gift, a very expensive gift indeed, but one whose price has been paid by the Lord Jesus Christ and not one we have to earn, we just need to believe and receive. Paul knew that, he was certainly not deserving of anything from the Lord but a good whack upside the head, yet he was given grace and a new lease on life with a clear cut mission and purpose.  Paul worked so hard out of gratitude, not fear— or to earn his salvation.

As he would tell the church at Ephesus:

 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Eph 2:7-9

Because he had been so lost and so wrong, for so long, Paul could think of nothing he would rather do, no endeavor more pressing or pertinent than devoting himself to spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.

Paul had found his purpose, Paul had no doubt now that Jesus had not called him by accident, that what may have seemed untimely or abnormal, was indeed the perfect time because if it had not been for Paul’s years of studying the Torah, all the years of searching for answers, seeking to know and please the God of Abraham, by striving to be perfect in every way as a Hebrew of Hebrews, attaining the vaulted office of a Pharisee— if he had not been so zealous for his faith that he even oversaw the killing of the first Christian Martyr— Stephen—if he had not been so zealous for God’s word, yet so blinded to the very fulfillment of all his promises at the same time— he would likely not have been so Zealous for Jesus and his church.

Jesus came to Paul at just the right time, he who had been born in the fullness of time knew exactly the right time to give Paul his wake up call. Jesus set Paul on a path that would lead him exactly where he needed to be and exactly when he needed to be there— if he hadn’t the world would likely be a very different place today.

Your Call?

What has God called you to do? What did he call you from, what makes you say; “Lord, why did you wait so long to rescue me, to reveal yourself to me?” Actually a better question would be: “What took me so long to recognize and acknowledge you Lord?” Then ask; has the grace extended to me been in vain? Have I used the life he saved me from to shape my future or is it just regrets and heartache— something I am still angry about?

Jesus didn’t mess up, everything came together at just the right time, he put you here, he led you here, he called you and got your attention,  you are where you are on purpose and— if you are not already— God wants to set you on a path and use you to change the world.

10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.

And by the way, my 4 day old grandson is doing very well, his name is Shane and he weighed in at 6lbs, 13oz. His mother, my daughter, is recovering well also. Praise God!
 

The War Within

We all long to be the we, we are supposed to be, why is it so hard?dr-seuss-quotes

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. Gal 5:16,17

In the church when we refer to the enemy, we all know who we are talking about. In fact I prefer to call the devil the enemy, mostly so I don’t have to say his name. He is indeed the enemy of our souls.

But there is another enemy of our souls, one that may be even more difficult to deal with and subjugate to the Spirit’s will and power.  An enemy that can be manipulated and emboldened to fight against us by the devil but one which can also fight against us— and will— with no outside influence whatsoever.  This is an enemy which lives with us, sleeps with us, is with us no matter where we go or how weary of its influence we may grow.  And no, I am not talking about your husband or wife.  I am talking about your own flesh.

As the old saying goes; “Wherever you go, there you are.” We can’t escape ourselves so we need to learn to live with ourselves.  The good news is, God made you just the way he wanted you to be so we just need to be the we, we are supposed to be.

Many of you don’t necessarily want to be you. I get that, because of this constant war with our own flesh the you, you see is often the you, you hope no one else sees. This is starting to sound like a Dr. Seuss book I know— but you’re getting it aren’t you.

Our own flesh, the very core of who we are, or at least who we are apart from the influence of the Holy Spirit, is our worst enemy and the only way to bring it into line, to make it an ally instead of a stumbling block is to be led by the Spirit, that’s Spirit with a capital S, the Holy Spirit, which is now one with us as we are reborn, our dead spirits reborn by his.

If we are indeed being led by the Spirit, listening to, trusting and obeying the Spirit, the Spirit’s desires will become our desires and the flesh will have less and less influence on us.  The flesh, our own selfish—it’s all about me, how can I be fulfilled,  how can I be comfortable, how can I be in control”— flesh, is at war with our souls.

Because the way it attempts to acquire the things it thinks it needs, usually ends up hurting us in the long run and prevents us from fulfilling our purpose.

God created you with—and for— a purpose, and it is only the Spirit that can lead you into the fulfillment of that purpose and that can bring the flesh into line with the will of God in our lives, so that we can be whole, body, mind and spirit. 

I used mind in place of soul there to avoid confusion with spirit, the soul is the part of us that is our consciousness, what we consider to be our minds but that consciousness goes on whether it is housed in these bodies or not, it is eternal and in the end will either be with the Lord, which is life, or apart from God, which is death—hell.  We must be complete in all three—body, soul and spirit—to have life, and we must strike the right balance between them to truly accomplish our purpose.  That is what the war against our souls is all about.

It is that eternal destiny and realizing our purpose from God in this life, wholeness, which is our true joy and fulfillment.

That wholeness that can only come from walking in and with the Spirit, with the Lord, is not something we conjure up on our own it is something the Lord offers, something that we have to grab on to and hold on to tightly.  It is indeed another aspect of the spiritual warfare we are engaged in. And like all aspects of that warfare the battle belongs to the Lord, we have to acknowledge the enemy, in this case, the sinful nature within us, and then look to the Lord for the victory just like we do in our battle with the powers of darkness.  Those two enemies play off each other, the flesh and the devil, and both must be resisted.

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:6

Believers in Christ, living under the new covenant of grace  are no longer condemned by the flesh. Now the struggle is remembering that, and learning to tap into the power of that grace in order to win the war our flesh still wages against us— the war within. If we understand that Jesus won that war for us and that we just need to learn to claim—and walk in— the victory, the battles will be a lot less intense and more and more infrequent.

 

No Shame

As Believers the only weapon the enemy has left against us is shame, shame brought on by the lies that we are losing the war— well, we don’t have to win the war, it’s already won! That knowledge alone will make the battles winnable.

 

You are loved, you are free, you can be victorious!