The Holy Spirit anoints men, men of prayer - E.M. Bounds

"What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Spirit can use -- men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men -- men of prayer." - E.M. Bounds

Vanity is a symptom

Actually in place of vanity you can put just about any sin. Pride, alcohol abuse, pornography addiction, lying, cheating, hating, stealing. Just about everything bad fits in there.

Sin is a symptom.

"To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." - Romans 8:6

To put your mind on the things of this world brings death, but to put your mind on the things of the Spirit - the heavenly things, brings life and peace.

A rather fascinating sin for me over the years has been vanity in the area of online fame (or something like it). Online fame is really a sad thing to desire, and I'm embarrassed to admit it just about every time I write about it. But what I've realized is there is a difference for me in online activity and online vanity. Activity includes writing for this blog, the sieve and the sand (my other blog), twitter, or other things such as quora. These are not inherently sinful, in fact I do believe (and hope) this blog and my even my mostly blither-full twitter stream might a blessing to some.

But online vanity is something different altogether. Online vanity includes a rather ridiculous amount of time checking the stats for this blog. "Where has my traffic been coming from? How many people have re-tweeted the blither I've recently written? Oooooo, online people I don't know like me."

Yea it's lame.

Well there is an inverse relationship between my online vanity and the quality of my quiet times. When I'm really seeking the Lord, I become caught up in the things of the Spirit, and the things of this world just kind of disappear. It's not even that they all of a sudden seem lame, but more - I just stop thinking about them.

To set my mind on the flesh is to set my mind on sin. Even setting my mind on not sinning is still setting my mind on sin. But setting my mind on the Lord, seriously pursuing Him, makes my sin go away.

And so I've learned my sin is a symptom. A symptom of not seeking the Lord.

Real forgiveness

"Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sint hat is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it." - C.S. Lewis

This reminds me of the saying, "A friend is someone who knows all about you, and likes you anyway."

Building Castles (1 Cor 1:25)

Yesterday I returned from a good bit of vacation. In the process of flying home we spent the night in a hotel in a city on the way. This hotel just opened December 22, so it had been open just over month, and it was obvious. The nice thing was it was a 5 star hotel for the price of a Motel 8.

Castles
Next to the work out area there was a brand new small children's play area. My daughter and I spent some time in there playing with a few of the toys they had, all alone. At 2 1/2 she's already interested in the cheap tea set, and set about making me pretend tea and pretend coffee for mom. Once she was thoroughly entertained without my help I set about playing with the only toy in the room that had any appeal to me, the blocks. They were a rather fancy set with specific pieces for making a castle. This included small turrets and stair cases etc... In fact when we arrived the staff had built a rather impressive little castle. My daughter tore it down and I decided I'd set about re-making an even better one.

After a few minutes of playing with the blocks, in grand two-year-old fashion, my little girl was suddenly interested in building a castle herself. Hey, dad was doing it. So I watched as she took apart what I had started and then began to stack things carefully, or as carefully as she's able.

The Architect
I didn't have to watch her build for very long before I wanted to help her understand how the pieces could go together better than she was assembling them. I wanted to explain how to build more stable towers, and why the turrets should be spread out rather than in a row with other blocks on top of them. But she wouldn't have it. "No daddy, I do it," she'd say. She was building what she saw as best, and wanted to do it herself.

If you're a parent you can probably relate to some kind of similar situation knowing you can do things better, but also knowing this is part of your child's learning process. They need to build many bad castles before they can build any good ones. So when they refuse help you stand back and watch them succeed or fail.

But then the Lord spoke to me about these building blocks.

You see, I fancy myself something of a strategist. I work in a city of millions of people and I'm constantly strategizing about how to minister to this many people, how to bring real transformation with a team of just 5 guys. I'm always coming up with new ideas and then trying to implement them, and I love it. I love seeing my ideas come to fruition and attempting to bring the Lord's Kingdom here in this city.

But there in that little toy room, I heard the Lord say something like, "You see how simple you're child's ideas look to you? You know how much better of a job you could do. That's how you are when you attempt to build things on your own. I can do it better. Let me help you."

It's not that I don't look to the Lord for ideas. It's just that sometimes my ideas feel good enough. Like my daughter thinks her castle is nice enough. Mine would probably better. An architect's would definitely be better than even my own, even with the same set of blocks.

I think my ideas are good enough. But God's would be better. And there is no architect greater than Him. I can spend my days building little castles in this city. Or I could look to my Father and ask, "How should I stack this? Which block should go here? Does this look right? Did I do that like I should have? Is there a better way?"

If He's anything like me as a father, He'd probably be more than thrilled to teach me to build awesome castles; especially when it brings Him Glory.

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." - 1 Corinthians 1:25.

"What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" - Luke 11:11-13