Archive for the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ Category

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A FABULOUS PAIR OF LEGS – July 13

July 13, 2014

“Thus you will recognize them by their fruit.” Matthew 7:20

English: Recreational floaters on the Boise Ri...

My family and I recently floated the Boise River. While we waited in the rental line, I noticed a man in line before us. This man was probably in his fifth decade but he had a striking characteristic. He had fabulous legs. He did not have the legs of a middle-aged man. His legs were so distinct that I nudged my wife and whispered, “Check out the legs on that dude.”

the-razors-edgeThese were legs to be admired. They were chiseled masterpieces of bronzed muscle. The definition of his calf muscles hinted to a power unusual for a man of his age. The large veins that traveled along the inside of the ankle were visible up across his shins noting an uncommon endurance. It was obvious that these fabulous legs had been crafted over years of rigorous training and hours of intense activity. These sorts of legs don’t just happen.

These were the legs of an athlete.

It did not take much insight to determine what activity had crafted these legs. The tan-lines had distinct edges starting just above the ankle and ending just beyond the knee. However, the conclusive clue was what was missing. There was a feature normal to a man that was absent from these legs.

His upper body demonstrated a genetic ability to grow a furry coat. However, the legs contradicted his natural state. These legs had been groomed clean. There is only one type of athlete, who has legs that are muscled to the point of veins, tanned in this particular pattern, and shaven.tan-lines1

These were the legs of a cyclist – a long-time cyclist.

As I admired these fabulous legs, I narcissistically wondered what the person behind me thought about my legs. I wondered if my athleticism was as evident in my conditioning. As I glanced back at my own calves, giving them a little flex, I questioned how well my continence revealed the passions of my life to an examining eye.

Beyond my vanity, the important passion of life looms large. I really care very little about getting recognized for a great pair of legs. However, there are characteristics that I hope are recognizable in a casual observation.

Does the person next in line see self-control in my behavior?
Has my wife come to expect gentleness in my response?
Are my kids accustomed to patience and kindness in my reactions?
Do my co-workers consider me a peaceful person?
Would my biography describe me as a joyful and good man?
Am I recognized by love and faithfulness?

Our passions are obvious to those around us and the fruit of our lives are revealed in a myriad of manners. I hope that we all can be identified by characteristics that are more important than a fabulous pair of legs.

PRAYER: Father, I want to be known by the fruit of your Spirit.  I want to be recognized as a child of God.  Lord, continue your work within my heart.  Transform me into your likeness.  May the world see you in my life for your glory.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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“MARITAL SPIRIT” – Oct 28

October 28, 2013

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since, they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”  1 Peter 3:7

Mall food court

Mall food court (Photo credit: Gaulsstin)

When I accompany my wife on a clothes shopping trip, I have an abundance of time.  I seek out the bench or chair, tucked away in some corner to make husbands feel less self-conscious of their surroundings.  While my wife beats every sales rack for the elusive prey of reasonably fitting jeans, I watch people.

You can learn a lot about a person by watching how they treat people.

Particularly revealing is the interaction of couples.  The shock of high divorce rates will no longer be a surprise once you spend a little time in the mall.  I sit in my little observation corner, watch, and shake my head:

I have seen a man marching down the middle of the aisle, barking orders over his shoulder to the mother of his children and their progeny.  I see a loud, manly, man with little regard for the impact of words.

I have seen a fashionista ricocheting down the aisle, enamored by the glamorous contents of sales racks with passing concern for the burdened man-servant kept in waiting.

I see a group of couples meandering along.  I hear a boy make a joke.  I see the payoff of laughs that he receives and I can see the impact on his girlfriend, who has to pay the bill.

I watch a family with every hair in place and every shirt tucked in.  There are obvious exacting standards at work within the family.  I wonder if those standards are held in place by one of the spouses demanding and unrelenting obsessive compulsions.

I watch a pack of young men ogle someone’s daughter with the same demeaning assessment as they make when purchasing a steak.

I watch young women freely displaying their produce in the proud manner of a farmer.

I cringe at what I hear.  The grate on my nerves comes from both what is spoken but also how words are expressed.  The honoring word is a rarity.  The respectful phrase seems endangered.

Couple talking on the Seine bank, Paris

Couple talking on the Seine bank, Paris (Photo credit: Laurent Scheinfeld ;-))

We should not be surprised by the difficulty that we have in our relationships when you consider how elusive the gentle and quite spirit seems to be.

Peter encourages our marriages to be characterized by honor and respect.  Men and women have different roles but honor for one another should be evident as we conduct our lives together.  Consider all of the problems that arise when we fail to honor each other.

I will inevitably hurt my wife if I am rude to her.
I will inevitably alienate my wife if I am indifferent to her.
I will inevitably crush my wife’s feelings if I am forceful to her.
I will inevitably devalue my wife if I refuse to listen to her.

When I respect and honor my wife as a fellow heir of Christ, it makes it easier for her to be respectful and honoring of me.  Her subsequent response to me makes it easier to honor her more.  The cycle of honor can become a wonderful catalyst to oneness between a man and woman.

I know of only one spring that produces this precious catalyst.  Marital honor flows from the spring of a gentle and quiet spirit.  Peter encouraged the women:

Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.  1 Peter 3:3-4

However, this is not just an encouragement for women.  Men are encouraged, multiple times, to have the same spirit; to be gentle and to be slow to speak.  The admonition to have a gentle and quiet spirit is for both men and women in our specific God ordained roles.  We are encouraged to have the same spirit because it is the fruit of the Spirit of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control Galatians 5:22-23

How much our relationships would improve if we were more gentle with one another?

How many conflicts between men and women would be averted if more self-control was employed?

This is why you can learn a lot about a person by watching how they treat other people.  The fruit of our spirit is on display in how we treat other people, particularly our spouse.  No one can hide their spirit within the closeness of marriage.

We have problems in our marriages because we don’t have enough respect and honor.

We don’t respect and honor one another because one or both spouses lacks a gentle and quiet spirit.

We don’t have gentle and quite spirits because we lack the fruit of the Spirit.

We lack the fruit of the Spirit because we are not walking in the Spirit.

couple

couple (Photo credit: Michael Sarver)

For those who are single, do not be blinded by your desire for a relationship.  A prospective spouse should be evaluated on the fruit of the Spirit in his life.  You should know where he walks before you join him.  Is he walking in the Spirit or does he spend more time walking in the world?  There will come a time when the fog of romance burns away.  If you want to be in a relationship that is built on honor and respect, then it has to start on the sure foundation of Christ.  Do not settle for second best.

The same is true for marriage.  Marriage is a beautiful dance of individuals, maturing through time.  There are times when partners can get out of rhythm.  The beauty of a marriage between fellow heirs of Christ is that there is a unity of Spirit that can be relied upon.  It is the fruit of the Spirit that sets the beat of our hearts.  When our steps are in concert with the Spirit, the catalyst of honor and respect will start to spring forth in glory to our Father as a couple lives as servants of God.

The honor and respect in our relationships tells us a lot about our walks with God.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for my wife.  Thank you for her gentle and quiet spirit.  Thank you all the work that you are doing in her life that has produced such wonderful fruit from your Spirit.  Father, continue to do that work.  Continue to do that work in me.  Lord, give me a gentle spirit.  Give me a quiet spirit.  Teach me how to honor my wife like I should.  Help me honor her in my thoughts, actions, and words.  May our marriage bring glory to you as we strive as a couple to serve you.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“THE CURSE OF WORK” – August 16

August 18, 2013

“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us…Now such person we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.”  2 Thessalonians 3:6, 3:12

Digging Ditch

Digging Ditch (Photo credit: Mozul)

I never realized the challenge of my parents.  They gave me chores.  They pushed and prodded me to complete my work; work that often sprang forth from their imagination.  Diabolical activities, motivated to make my life miserable.  They often succeeded.

I did not know what my parents were doing at the time.  I definitely did not appreciate their intentions.  I thought they were just profiting from free labor.

I now know that those hours in the sweltering sun produced more than a crooked fence, manicured lawn, or stacked hay.  My parents were building in me a work ethic.  They were teaching me what work feels like.

Work is a curse.  Labor does not feel good.  It might be rewarding.  It might feel satisfying but work by its very nature is work.  My natural inclination leans toward leisure.  I like vacations.  I enjoy a lazy Sunday afternoon.  Work often gets in the way of all the entertainment that I am drawn to.

However, work is so much more that earning a living and being responsible.  My parents were not teaching me to work only for the benefits of paycheck.  Work refines a very important spiritual discipline within us.  Work teaches us the spiritual gift of self-control.  That makes the curse of work a gift from our loving God.

God cursed work because we needed it to be cursed.  He had a purpose beyond punishment.

Idleness is all about self.  The sluggards are ruled by their selfish desires.  The lazy will prefer to sit and watch others work primarily because of a spiritual lack of self-control.  Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.  It does not come to us naturally.  The sluggard lacks the self-control to turn from his natural desire toward self-gratification toward the service of others.

When God cursed work, He knew what He was doing.  He knew that man had a sinful heart whose greatest desire was going to be a love of self rather than God.  Self-love manifests itself in so many areas but our work ethic tends to be the most revealing. I would rather be served than to serve.  However, it is through work that the love for my neighbor can be seen.  It is through work that my love for God can be put on display.  When I am reclined in my idleness, all my words of theology are merely words.

Self-control spurs us out of the entropy of self-love and into service of others.  When work is intentional toward serving others, then we have a work ethic glorifying to God.

post hole

post hole (Photo credit: BarelyFitz)

I have now come full circle.  I am now the parent of a teenage son.  I have to get creative with tasks to make him sweat.  Hatching diabolical activities to make his life miserable is harder than I had thought.  It is often more work to get him to work than to just do the work. However, my efforts to make him work are about so much more than digging a few post holes.  It is about teaching him how to control a sinful and wayward heart.  The gift of God’s curse on work is a wonderful tool to tame the self-love of a sinful heart.  Work is good for his soul.

Someday, he will thank me.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for your purpose behind work.  Help me to continue to learn the lessons of self-control in all the areas of my life including work. Lord, I want to be a good father to my son.  Help me to take the time to teach him how to work.  Give me the patience to continue to prod him along.  Father, do your work on his heart.  May your Spirit teach him self-control.  Grow in him the fruit of self-control so that he may glorify You in his service to others.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“RUNNING ON A FLAT TIRE” – July 26

July 26, 2013

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  Philippians 2:3-4

flat tire
flat tire (Photo credit: helga tawil souri)

“Not again,” was my thought as I walked onto our porch and saw the deflated back tire on my road bike.  I have experienced a rash of flat tires.  This was my third flat tire in four outings.  Fortunately, none of the causes have resulted in a deflation that left me standing along the roadside.  They have all been slow leakers.  I get done with my ride and the tire is a little squishy but the damage has been done.  Through the night the precious entrapped air escapes.

Without air in my tires, the rim will grind into the asphalt if I were to try to ride it.  The air in the tire creates some very important separation.  Road bike tires are impressive for the very small amount of area that actually comes in contact with the pavement.  The smaller that area can be results in less friction, which means you go faster.  However, you must have air in your tires.

I have come into contact with my world for my entire life, like a tire to pavement.  I have learned a few things when pressed up against family and friends.  I am aware of the effect when the weight of interaction is applied in school, work, church, or any other social occasion.

Flat Tire

Flat Tire (Photo credit: sam.d)

The more of me that comes into contact with other people the more friction there will be.

My flesh only knows the interaction of self-interest.  The pursuit of one’s self-interest will always result in friction.  I can grind into my world with a purposefulness of my self-interest that reveals itself in rivalry and conceit.  My values can get squishy when I pursue what I feel is best for me.  I become about as effective as a flat tire when my self-interest is given the lead.

Flat repairI know that I need separation.  I know that the less of me and my self-interest that interacts with the world the better.  That is why I need to be filled with the Spirit.  It is only by the filling of the Spirit that rivalry and conceit can be banished.  It is only through the power of the Spirit that our flesh can be pushed back so we can even see the interests of others.  The fruit of the Spirit is like a tire pump.  With each sustaining pump of the Spirit into our lives (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control), the amount of interaction between our flesh and others is reduced.  That reduces friction.

I have never wanted to seek other interests when I have been spiritually flat.  There was way too much of me grinding into my world to care about the interests of others.  We need the work of the Spirit in our lives to fill and lift us.  As the Spirit fills us from one degree to another, our sanctification will increase like the pressure in a tire.  I look forward to the day when my flesh is completely destroyed.  Until that day, I will rely upon the power of the Spirit to separate the remaining tentacles of my flesh from the world.

How is the pressure of the Spirit in your life?

PRAYER: Lord, I realize more each day how much I need you.  Thank you for sending your Spirit to teach and guide me.  Thank you for filling me and making me a new creature.  Father, help me to set my mind on you and not on myself.  Lord, develop the fruit of your Spirit in my life.  Transform me so that my nature will be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  That is who I want to be.  Father, raise me to be that kind of man.  May the world see more of you and less of me.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“RACE EXPECTATIONS” – July 14

July 14, 2013

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealously, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.  I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace,  patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 3:19-23

I am a Spudman.  Yesterday, I competed in the Spudman Triathlon, which was my first triathlon of the year and my first try at the Olympic distance.

I was a little disappointed in my results.

I had hoped to finish with a time between 2 hours 30 minutes and 2 hours 45 minutes.  I had it all figured out.  Swim the 1.5 K in 28 minutes, ride at a 20 mph average, and run at a 8:30 minute/mile pace, then I would finish right where I was hoping.

My race did not turn out as I had envisioned it in my head.  My mind pictured me gliding through the water with the race leaders.  I saw myself flying up the two big climbs like I was in the Tour de France.  The visualization was to conclude with me running like a gazelle along the Boise River.

In reality, I finished at 2 hours, 51 minutes, 37 seconds.

039As usual, I was right in the meat of the race bell curve; The Meat of Average.  I did not swim with the race leaders.  I was jostled about with swimmers all around me throughout the swim.  I emerged from the water after 31 minutes, 17 seconds.  However, I swim 1.6K in a 25 yard pool at around 32-33 minutes.

Therefore, my swim was right about what I average in training.

079The professional cycling teams will not be seeking to take me to the Tour de France next year.  The two big climbs of the course humbled me to 8 mph.  I made up time on the descent and the flats but the climbs were brutally long stretches and my average speed was only 18.7 mph.  However, I finished a similar hilly course two weeks ago and averaged only 17 mph.

Therefore, my ride was right about what I average in training.

The tranquility of the Boise River Greenbelt was not sufficient to transform me from an ox into a gazelle.  I plodded along as other competitors continually passed me and I passed no one.  There were so many familiar faces that I had raced past on the bike only to see them gracefully stride past me on the run.  It was depressing as I labored in at a 9 minute, 14 second per mile average.  However, I normally run a 10k just under 9 minutes per mile.  When you consider that I had just swam 1.5K and cycled 25 miles, my run was right about my training average considering my tired legs.089

Race day expectations should be guided by everyday training experience.  There was nothing in my training that supported my vision of 2 hour, 30 minute finish time.  However, that had not prevented me from creating all of these justifications for why my race day expectations would be different from my training experience.

There are many people who are discouraged by how they respond to temptation.  They wonder how they could get caught up into something so completely of the flesh.

Why did I click on that website;
Why did I flirt with that person;
Why did I say such a mean thing;
Why did I get so angry;
Why does that person irritate me;
Why can’t I stop wanting their life;
Why did I do something so unethical;
Why did I drink so much?

It seems to me that many folks have  expectations of  responding well to big temptations that the experience of their daily spiritual walks’ do not support.  It should not surprise us that we fall when we are not regularly and consistently walking by the Spirit and setting our minds on the things of the Spirit.

Adultery never just happens –
it comes from habitually allowing our minds to linger on the sensual and lust.
Fits of anger never just happen –
it comes from allowing our selfishness to regularly be irritated for not getting what it wants.
Major lapses into the unethical never just happen –
they come from a pattern of compromise and justifications.
Feuds never just happen –
they come from years of pride and a refusal to reconcile.

Most of us want to think that we will never do those “big” sins.  What is your confidence built upon?  Is the confidence of victory over temptation based on hopeful speculation or experience?

How is your training been going? 

Does your daily walk support your expectations? 

There are many folks who expect a spiritual response when their path has not been of the Spirit.  They expect godliness when their minds have been languishing in the godless.  Our daily walk in the Spirit is a good indicator of how we will respond to those bigger challenges of our faith.

We need to have realistic expectations.  This is no place for speculation.  If your daily walk in the Spirit is not what you know it should be, then do something about it.  All of our minor flubs and foibles do matter because they show us where our minds are set.  Those mis-steps should not be merely dismissed and justified.  They should turn us back to our Lord and Savior in repentance, love, and a desire to follow Christ with our whole heart.

We can face temptations with confidence when we face them through the power of the Spirit.  Let’s make sure that we are actually living in the power of the Spirit.  Let’s run this race of life with realistic expectations based on the joyful experience of being daily trained by the Spirit himself.

PRAYER: Lord, you know that I want to persevere to the end.  You know that I want to run well.  You also know that I am very weak.  Father, help me; fill me with your Spirit and help me to set my mind on the things of you.  Lord, I need your help to walk in the Spirit.  Thank you for helping.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“MEANS TO AN END” – April 14

April 14, 2013

“O Israel, hope in the Lord!  For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.” Psalm 130:7

It is just a means to an end.

That is a saying that I have uttered on many an occasion.  This saying has been applied to countless insignificant, meaningless, or unpleasant activities that are completed in order to obtain a greater purpose.  The greater purpose is the goal and the lesser activities are the means or method by which the goal is obtained.  It is a principle that is used all the time.

Someone may have a goal of being a corporate CEO.  The means to becoming the CEO is working all the various positions on the corporate ladder as they climb up to obtain the primary goal.  Many of those jobs are not very rewarding.  However, the CEO is the end; all the jobs along the way are the means.  That is why they do them.

Someone may have a goal of becoming an elected official.  The means to getting elected is going to all those political party functions, the “meet and greets”, the shaking hands, and the baby kissing.  Campaigning can be exhausting.  However, being elected is the end; the campaigning is the means.  That is why it is done.

Someone may have the goal of becoming fit.  The means to getting fit is eating less and exercising more.  Working out is not that enjoyable.  Eating less and healthy is not very satisfying.  However, being fit is the end; working out and watching what you eat is the means.  That is why it is done.

I think that everyone understands that it takes means to reach desired ends.  However, there is a problem when we allow this mentality to drift into our relationships.

People are never means.  People are always ends.

English: Broken Heart symbolThere is so much heartache that comes from people being treated as means to achieve some other end.  People are often tossed aside when they have served their purpose.

The friend who is no longer called because better ones have been found;

The girlfriend who is dumped after she has given herself;

The boyfriend who is broken off because there are better options;

The colleague who is abandoned since he is no longer of an advantage;

The friendship that is pursued because of connections;

The spouse who is left for a new source of happiness.

It is an unloving attitude to treat another person as a means; to treat them as a pawn in a grand strategy of obtaining a greater purpose.  We are told that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.  The goal for every person who we engage is to encourage, edify, teach, and train.  The people with whom we interact should be better for that experience.  They should be more joyful, more peaceful, and happier; they should feel like they have experienced kindness, gentleness, and goodness.  They should know that they are loved after they have spent time with us.  That is our end with other people.  Our neighbor’s best is the end; love is the means.

In much the same way, God is never the means. God is always the end.

Many people seek out God to get something.  They come to Him with expectations and when those expectations are not fulfilled they leave Him.

They seek God to make their life better;

They want God to repair their marriage and/or relationships;

They want God to give them wealth and connections;

They want God to make them feel better about themselves;

They want God to keep them out of hell.

They seek God for the purpose of obtaining those other things.  They are not seeking God because He is God.  We are told that the greatest commandment is to love God.  Our primary purpose is to bring glory to God for who He is and what He has done.  We bring God the greatest glory that is possible from us when we love Him with all that we are, think, and do.  Bringing God the glory that He is due is the end; our love is the means.

In God’s plan, I am never the end; I am always the means.

I put myself in a bad place when I make myself an end.  I was never intended to be my own personal end.  I cannot be following the greatest of commandments when I have made myself an end.

We are making ourselves the end when we say things like, “I deserve <fill in the blank>; to be loved, to be happy, to be respected, to be appreciated, to be acknowledged, to be rewarded, to be feared.  The results of not having our blank filled in, the way we want, is often anger, jealousy, envy, gossip, and coveting. Those sins are the fruit of making ourselves the end. We were never intended to be our own personal end; we have always been the means for showing love to God and others.

The good news is that we do not have to feel left out.  One of the blessings of Christian community, as God intended, is that other believers will be interacting with you as their end.  They will be showing you love as their means of encouraging and edifying you. This is one of the reasons that living within the Church, the body of Christ, is so important to our souls.  It is when we pull away from those whose end is our best that we begin to start looking out for ourselves and our own personal ends; only bad results will come from that.  We need to allow the means of other believers to work to their desired ends in our lives.

Now, we all know that the church is imperfect.  Other believers can let us down.  Other Christians often have their ends very confused and do a horrible job of loving their neighbors.  We can come away after interacting with some church folk and be discouraged and feeling unloved.  We need to learn to forget ourselves and understand that they don’t owe us anything.  Their actions are often the result of sin and/or immaturity.  Remember, they are our end; not our means.  We do not need to rely upon them.  We can rest assured that we will never be left abandoned in an emotional wasteland.  God is always for us.

We are God’s end; His love is the means.

We are children of God.  There is nothing that can prevent Him from showing His love to His children.  He knows what we need.  He knows that we need His peace, contentment, encouragement, and love.  He knows how to give His children good gifts.  When we make ourselves our personal ends, we are declaring our unbelief in the sufficiency of God.

We can trust God to fulfill us.

We can trust God to sustain our self-esteem.

We can trust God to give us happiness.

We are in the hands God.  He is merciful and gracious; slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  He is faithful and can be trusted with our emotional well-being.  It is a small thing for the creator of the universe to fill you and me with joy.

We just need to trust Him with our hearts.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for showing me your steadfast love.  Thank you for not leaving me to rely upon myself.  Thank you for being sufficient in all ways.  Lord, help be to show your love to my neighbors.  Forgive me for being manipulative of other people and not loving them like I should.  Lord, I pray that I will be a blessing to all those I meet and that they will feel loved by your steadfast love flowing through me. Amen.

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“FILLED FOR PURPOSE” – April 7

April 7, 2013

“And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52

I have a large, brown coffee mug.  It is my favorite.  It comes straight from Yosemite National Park and has a big white bear on the side.  I don’t think the creators of this mug realize the level of perfection that they achieved in their creation.

My Coffee Mug 002I think that it might be the perfect coffee mug.

It has the perfect volume.  It is large enough without being too large.  My study is in our basement.  The coffee pot is not.  A mug that is too small will result in excessive trips to the unholy, pre-dawn surface.  A mug that is too large will waste coffee because the coffee at the bottom of the mug will lose its wonderful warmth before I get to it.  My coffee mug is the perfect balance between volume and heat loss.

It has the perfectly sized handle.  I can get a full, four-finger grip on this mug.  This is not a dainty, two-finger tea cup.  I always feel like I lose a couple credits on my man-card every time I have to sip from an undersized sissy cup.  This is no sissy cup.  My mug has some heft to it; I get a little bit of an arm workout when I undertake my morning brew and my masculinity is intact for at least a couple more hours.

My coffee mug is the perfect color.  The interior of my mug is white, which is the perfect color for the art of coffee alchemy; that mixing of pure white cream and deep black coffee into the exquisite blend of milk-chocolate colored goodness.  A white interior is essential so as not to interfere with the science of a true blend master.

My mug’s exterior is a dark brown, which is also the perfect color.  Dark brown is ideal because it masks unpleasant residues.  The transfer of coffee from mug to mouth relies upon the sip.  The sip relies upon the delicate seal between lips and rim.  This is not a consistently perfect seal.  The unfortunate result of periodic seal imperfections is a slight loss of wonderful coffee infused fluid down the exterior of the mug.  This can be very unappealing on a white mug.  A dark brown mug is perfect at hiding the unsightly indicators of uncleanness.  I know that is a little gross but it is the truth.

As you can plainly see, I have the perfect coffee mug.

However, my affections for this coffee mug will be dashed if it fails in one vital aspect.  If my coffee mug were not to retain coffee then I would not love it.  This mug’s greatest value is realized when it is doing what it was made for; brimming with coffee.  A coffee mug that does not hold coffee is something other than a mug.  Some mugs are more ornamental so they might have another lesser use if they could not hold coffee.  My mug is large and brown, with a white silhouette of  a bear.  My wife has not pinned my mug as a decorating idea on Pinterest.

My mug’s value is associated with the fact that it can be filled.

God has made mankind with a unique capacity.  It is a capacity to be filled.  There is no other creature in God’s creation that was designed with this capacity.  God created us in a way that allows us to be filled by His own Spirit.  It is an amazing function when you consider it.  We were designed to be filled by the Spirit of God.

It is only when man is filled by the Spirit that he is able to reach his greatest purpose.  Man’s chief purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  That is only possible when he is filled with the Spirit.  Paul tells us in Romans 8 that we cannot please God if we are in the flesh and not in the Spirit.  The Spirit of God must dwell in us for us to live by the Spirit and please Him.  We must be filled with the Spirit of Christ.  It is only then that we can fulfill our greatest purpose.

The eternal value of the work of my life is directly associated with the fact that I am filled by the Spirit of Christ.

Those who seek meaning in this life apart from the indwelling Spirit of God are like a coffee mug that cannot hold coffee.  They cannot know true meaning and fulfillment because they are empty of what they were designed to contain – the Spirit of God.  They may be the perfect blend of form and function; ideal intellect, talent, and physical ability that come together to do one task extraordinarily well.  However, that task will always be secondary and of no eternal meaning because it is absent the essential ingredient of God.

Where are you seeking your meaning in this life?

We will only know true joy and satisfaction when we are brimming with the goodness of God’s wonderful Holy Spirit.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for giving me your Spirit.  Thank you for giving us your Spirit to bear witness with our spirit that we are children of God.  Lord, fill me to the brim with your Spirit.  Make me overflow with the goodness that comes only from You.  Help me set my mind on you and the things of your Spirit.  May I glorify and enjoy You in all that I do for all of my days. . . Amen.

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