Mike in a Box

I have an aversion to religious rituals in my life. This aversion is so strong I even call it ritualism. Anytime I think something might become a ritual I avoid it at all cost. I struggle with a consistent morning devotional because I am afraid I might just start going through the motions. I am afraid of losing the spiritual connection to the action so often times I avoid beginning it in the first place. I think to myself instead: Michael you have the Holy Spirit, you can pray and fellowship with God anytime. This is true I can pray and fellowship with God anytime I like, but do I?

Before I continue I want to let you know that I plan on using a few analogies and to remind you that analogies eventually break down. Some analogies are better than others and some hold up longer than others but that is their nature. An analogy can only go so far because they only have partial similarities and so it is with the ones I will use.

My aversion to rituals is, by and large, only affected by spiritual things. I brush my teeth every morning, I go to the gym most mornings, I wash my beard two times a week, and so on. Now you might be thinking that these things are not rituals but routines and you would be right they are routines. A routine as defined by Google – a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program. Every morning I have the same routine: I wake up, get my robe, drink my coffee, read my emails, check the verse of the day, check Facebook, re-read the verse of the day because I forgot already, and so on. Same thing every morning. There are slight variations depending on the day but you get the picture. If I was the star of a TV show my morning routine could be the opening credits because it does not change.

Another routine I have is I go to the gym four days a week. I do different exercises each day but there is still a routine in there. I have thoughts about not going to the gym because I don’t feel like it, especially on Fridays, but I know it is good for me so I go. I am usually glad I did. So why if I can see the value of routines in my daily physical life am I so hesitant to put spiritual routines in place? Why do I call routines rituals in my my spiritual life? The answer is…I have no idea.

That is the point I hit about three weeks ago. I was dumbfounded at why one was seen as good and the other as bad. Yes setting aside specific prayer times could become dull and robotic but the same could happen at the gym. True my reading could turn into a “must” instead of a “want” but that can happen in any area. The reason it doesn’t is because of self-control and desire. I desire to get stronger or to learn an instrument. The desire trumps the problem of dullness. Then at times when the desire is not as strong self-control takes over and keeps me on track. Things do not become ritualistic because you choose to not allow that to happen. So I made a choice.

Three weeks ago I set three timers on my phone that simply say prayer time. When these timers go off I stop what I am doing (if I can) and take a couple of minutes to read something and pray. I am happy to say that most days I hit all three times. There are days when due to my schedule I simply cannot do it and that is OK. I still do my bigger readings and bigger prayer times but these three times are about stopping to refocus my attention on Christ. It is not about doing a Bible study or getting a breakthrough in an area of my life. It is simply about stopping to spend a few minutes with Jesus.

I was so afraid of putting God in a box that I did not realize something very important. While God does not belong in a box but I might. We are always told to think outside of the box, to be free with our worship, to live in the moment, and to listen to the Spirit. That is great and I try to be like that but what about self-control. What if you find yourself wanting to be like that but not having the time every day to do that. Am I always spontaneous with my wife? What about with my kids? No, because there are times when you need to make time for them. Times when you are busy. You want to spend time with your loved ones but your schedule does not allow for you to do something in the moment. In those times you have to be intentional about it. Our walk with Jesus is similar, we need to be intentional about it. Sometimes we need to put ourselves in a box so that we can do the thing we want to do.

So I have put myself in a box and I have to say it is more comfortable in here than I thought.

Just a thought,

Mike

Compounding Interest and Faith

On one hand, I know it might sound silly and to those who think it does you can just ignore this post and move on to something in the Archives, but I want to be a better Christian. I want to know more and do more for God. Not because I am trying to earn favor or get something from Him but because I love Him and want more of Him. I guess I just want to add to my faith. The question is can I and should I? Should this even be a desire to have?

2 Peter 1:5-7 says it is possible and more so that I should give all diligence to this very task of adding to my faith. That I should actually not just want this but do it. There is a lot in these three verses, and it might just spill into two posts so bear with me because as my daughter used to sing “we’re going on a trip in our favorite rocket ship…”

There are seven things we are told to add to our faith in these three verses. Seven things that are supposed to be compounded upon each other. It is like compounding interest which is awesome when investing and horrid when paying. Compound interest works like this; You put money in and then interest is added to that, but that interest money that is given is now added to the total and you get interest on the whole amount. So for example, you put in $100 with 25% interest (unheard of I know) for four years, you would have somewhere around $244 at the end. Whereas if the interest did not compound you would only have $200 at the end of the year. It is like the whole doubling a penny a day trick where you end up a few million in a month or something like that. Peter is talking about the same thing. Start with your faith and then compound it.

2 Peter 1:5-7 But also for this very reason (see verse 4) giving all diligence add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

These are the things that are supposed to be compounded on each other. It is not faith, then virtue, then knowledge and so on setting them aside after each use. But they are supposed to go one on top of the other so that as you compound them so we will have knowledge of Jesus and not be shortsighted or unfruitful. So let’s look at the list:

Virtue

Knowledge

Self-Control

Perseverance

Godliness

Brotherly Kindness

Love

I also think it important to mention that this is not a 1-7 list. It is not first Virtue then Knowledge as if when you do one you are done with it. No this is a continual list as in keep adding to these things. Sometimes you are working a little more on Self-Control then Brotherly Kindness. The order is not nearly as important as the act of the adding. So onto to Greek….

Virtuearetē

Moral excellence as modesty or purity. Think of Virtue as being ethical. If it is right then do that. Regardless of ease do the right thing and take the right path. Virtue is added by doing.

Knowledgegnōsis

Knowledge here is actually specific to the things of the faith. It is not just any old knowledge. It is not learning more about Starfish (which are pretty cool), but the things the Bible says. This is done by reading and meditating on the Word of God.

Self-Controlegkrateia

Self-Control is funny to define because it is like defining the word “is.” But I shall try. Self-Control is not giving in to your desires. It is realizing that you can say no to the TV, girl/guy, yes to quiet time, and so on. Self-Control is only done when tempted to not have it. You can only have it when you need it.

Perseverancehypomonē

Perseverance in the Christian faith is a whole lot like exercising. It is that dig deep moment. It is the my legs are shaking but I am going to keep going moment, the I want to quit or let this discouragement in moment but I am going to keep at it. I am going to push forward. If courage is doing it regardless of fear than discouragement is giving into the fear. Perseverance is not giving into the hardship but pushing on towards the goal.

Godlinesseusebeia

Godliness is reverence and respect for God. It is just the realization that you are not God. It is understanding that your ways are not His ways and that He can do as He pleases and that His purposes are good.

Brotherly Kindnessphiladelphia

Not this city or movie. This means love. Not agape love because that is slightly different but this is love for your brothers and sisters in Christ. When you see others being persecuted or hurting or needing help it is doing what is needed. It is taking time to serve and love the body.

Loveagapē

Now, this is real God like love. This is 1 Corinthians 13 love. I won’t say too much because a lot has been said, but suffice to say it is giving of yourself.

So there we have it. There are seven things and all of them hard. All require something of us, but all give us something better than what we can be without them. When applied and compounded we get a faith that is strong and we will have fruit.

We managed to get it all in one post. It’s a long post but oh well.

Just a thought,

Mike