A Different Spirit

“But because my servant Caleb as a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it” (Numbers 14:24)

Cultivating this “different spirit” of wholehearted devotion to the Lord is so difficult in today’s culture.  I watched a John Stossel video with my 6th period class yesterday about being famous.  They cited a study–most young people today would rather be a personal assistant to a celebrity than be a Senator or a CEO of a corporation.  They did “man on the street” interviews where they asked people two questions:  1) Who cured polio?; and 2) Who was Nicole Richie’s best friend?  Among older people, some knew Jonas Salk, and many didn’t know Paris Hilton. (I didn’t even know who Nicole Richie was; I had to find out from the video.)  But among the young, nobody knew who cured polio, but almost everyone knew who Nicole Richie’s best friend was.

Our media-obsessed culture, in which we vicariously live our lives through celebrities we have never met, is destroying meaning and significance in our lives.  How does a Christian live in this culture with a “different spirit?”

What Caleb did is that he saw his circumstances through God’s eyes.  He saw the same fortified cities and giants in the land they were supposed to conquer.  But He and Joshua argued with those who were afraid:

“Do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up.  Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us.  Do not be afraid of them” (Num 14:9).

He trusted the Lord to intervene in his circumstances, and acted on it.  He put himself in situations where he would be in trouble if the Lord didn’t act.  Not recklessly so, but out of obedience to God.  He remembered what God had done in the past, and trusted him to do it again.

Lord, help me to walk wholeheartedly before you.  Lord, I want to listen to your voice, and see my circumstances through your eyes.  Increase my faith.  Put a different spirit within me.  As I read the stories of your intervention and deliverance, give me the faith to believe that you will do it again.  Thank you for repeatedly doing it again in my own life.  In Jesus’ name.

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What I wish I could say, part …million!

My favorite journal topics we discuss in my classes are always bittersweet for me.  Lately we’ve talked about what true love is (a choice of the will to put someone before yourself), and that relationships based purely on emotion don’t last and aren’t ultimately meaningful or satisfying, even though they feel like it in the short run.  We talked about the societal problems caused by fatherlessness, and the importance of being a good father, or marrying a man who will be a good father.  In both of these topics, I am trying to paint a picture for my students about how important character is.  If they cannot do what is right even when they don’t feel like it, and, if they marry, don’t choose someone who also can do that, they will experience sad consequences and miss tremendous blessings.

But it pains me to have to leave them there.  Just have character?  Do the right thing?  Can I even do that?  There is an emptiness in this conclusion.  None of us can do it.  I constantly need the strength of Jesus and his Holy Spirit.  It is the realization that I can’t do it on my own that leads me to humble myself at the cross and ask for help. And He is so merciful.

So even though I feel like what I have to say about relationships and families touches a lot of my students, it’s not complete.  It’s only the beginning.  What really makes relationships work is when all of those involved go to Jesus and get his strength and wisdom.  Without that, I am just giving my students a list of rules.  The law, if you will.  And that grieves me.

My prayer is that what they see in me will draw them to Christ, even if, as a public school teacher, I often can’t say what I wish I could say.

Father, please rescue my students from this child-molesting culture we live in!  Draw them in by your kindness, and show them your great love.  Bring others that know you alongside of them to show them who you are.  Any part of me that accurately reflects your character, may they see you through that.  In Jesus’ name. 

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