Training Your Spirit

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Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”

2 Corinthians 4:10, NLT

“Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.”

Hebrews 2:18

No book, no tutor will give us the education we need.  We must patiently go through seasons of difficulty and temptation before we can understand what our brother or sister is facing.  Furthermore, we must advance through different levels;  sickness, injury, loss and discouragement.  On top of this, we must be tutored in the language of affliction, till we speak it without an accent.

This is a ‘strange’ school.  We’re watched and observed very closely to see what we will do.  “Will he give $5 to the homeless man, or will he turn away like usual?” There are billions of these scenarios that we get placed in.  And often there are multiple layers of these ‘programs’ running simultaneously.

And yet we are always being evaluated in love.

It is very advantageous for you to pass this way, because it lets you speak the dialect of suffering, with its mixture of pain and joy.  Believers now have a common tongue which in we communicate.

When Lynn and I lost our daughter Elizabeth, it was a deep, dark valley.  But I came to see (understand) that in some obscure way now able to speak into the hearts of those who were lost in pain.  Death has a way of touching us deeply.

There are so many different classes in God’s ‘strange’ university.  You may be enrolled in Compassion 101, or Mercy 410.  Oh, and by the way there is a school counselor available to all students that request Him (the Holy Spirit).

Also, we will do remarkably better if we will befriend others who are also enrolled.  Worshipping and the Word are quite critical as we must keep our spirits clean and right.

“He suffered and endured every test and temptation, so that he can help us every time we pass through the ordeals of life.”

Hebrews 2:18, TPT

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When You Are Scorned

“My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”  Psalm 42:3, ESV

I have a vivid and clear memory of meeting this well-groomed gentleman walking up the steps of BART in Berkeley.  He was dressed in the sophisticated twill jacket with a vest, and carried a elegant brief case.  I myself, had been preaching on Telegraph Avenue, very close to the open gates of UC Berkeley.  It was a solid and definite ministry, and the thick crowds were quite open to the Gospel.  After our pre-determined time, we shut down and all headed for home.

I was catching the subway back to the Mission district  in downtown San Francisco when I met him coming up the steps.  It was just him and I as we met.  He stopped, and looked at me, very focused and intent.  He then said, “I so wish we could feed you to the lions, again.”  He spoke coldly, and thoughtfully.  It was chilling.

It floored me, as I slowly realized he had no idea of how I spent the last four hours.  Whatever was animating him, it knew what I had been doing.  The amazing part of this, is that he was dressed as a professor, part of the teaching staff at UC Berkeley.  I was impressed initially by his bearing, and just his composure, and all of this seemed to be a  result of a collegiate decorum or a special demeanor.

As I considered this contact with him, I was shakened. He knew who I was, and what I was up to.  I wish that I could tell you that I responded to him, with a precise and zinging word that brought him to salvation. But that was not the case.  I was instantly and deeply deflated, and as I stood there looking directly at him, I felt vulnerable, and perhaps a bit humbled.

But what I was touching was the power of scorn.  It had become a bare wire, that was just there.  But the contact had not just been a ‘shocking’ experience of the moment (which we have so many.)

“3But first you must realize that in the last days some people won’t think about anything except their own selfish desires. They will make fun of you 4and say, “Didn’t your Lord promise to come back.  Yet the first leaders have already died, and the world hasn’t changed a bit.” 2 Peter 3:3-4, CEV

We must deal with an evil (propagated against believers) that scorns the idea of an advancing evil, or a darkness that pursues the believer.  As I think about this, it seems to be like one of those juvenile delinquents who let out the air of four full tires on our car.  We wish it didn’t happen, but we can’t pretend, by looking the other way.

We confront, face-to-face, an evil that twists us, and declares that things are not what they seem to be.  It all comes down to an awareness that our presence has a bit of “transformation” to it.  There will be scorners, those who know the art of mocking our faith.  They specialize in this evil, without fear.

Dear one, don’t let the scorn and mocking of a few malign and then destroy your faith. You have come too far to let this happen.  The vulgar voices shouldn’t sidetrack you or direct you down an evil path.  The scorn from the evil that surrounds you, it can destroy or strengthen you.  Take it as it comes.  Hold on to what is good.