Archive for the ‘Holy Spirit’ Category

What is Self-Control?

There is perhaps no greater issue in life than how we can change our bad habits into good ones. If you are struggling with an addiction, how can you break free from it? If I am struggling with anger, what role do I play in overcoming this response? Many, if not most, people try to change their bad habits through willpower alone. And yet we have all kinds of evidence that willpower alone works for very few people.

Several years ago I was the medical director for a local “Breathe Free” program we offered in the community. This was a smoking cessation plan that helped people kick the tobacco habit. The program has been around since 1959 & has as much as an 80% success rate. Our program had that same success rate at 3 months. The question I didn’t know was how effective our program was after 3 years! We lost track of the vast majority of people when the program was completed. There was one man, however, with whom I remained in contact for years. He & I worked in the same office building so I would see him frequently each week. Brian (not his real name) came to the program because he had asked his daughter what she wanted for her 5th birthday. She had responded that she wanted him to quit smoking. So there he was, sitting in our program, desperately wanting to change as a gift for his daughter.

Brian was successful! We had a celebration party at the end of the program & his daughter was beaming! She sat on her dad’s lap that evening with a twinkle in her eye. She was proud of her day because he was victorious! Brian had given his daughter & himself the best gift possible – health. It was great to see Brian’s countenance change over the months as he remained victorious. And then one day our eyes locked onto each other as he was in the parking lot smoking a cigarette. This was more than a year later. Addictions are hard to change. They are devastating.

In my experience, it’s not enough for me to say that I will change. I might have the greatest personal motivation to change as did Brian. But I need more than my own willpower. I need more than self-control. So here’s my questions: What role does God play in your change? What is the self-control that Paul talks about in Galatians 5:23?

Perhaps the key is not in saying “No” to bad habits, but rather in saying “Yes” to God’s Spirit. What do you think? What is your experience with change?

Are You Ready to Connect?… Get the Spirit!

Pam & I had decided to sell our BMW-Z3 in favor a a more practical car. This was a very logical decision. We really didn’t need a little convertible sports car. But once it was gone, we realized how much we missed driving on the backroads through Illinois & Wisconsin on our little 2 day getaways in that little car.

We had been without the Z3 for about a year when Pam went on a 2-week trip with our son & his boys’ choir. About a week into her trip I had an appointment in Chicago near a BMW dealership. I went to just browse – honest! And wouldn’t you know they had a new Z-4 with the perfect color combination of a steel blue exterior, a gray convertible top, & an off-white interior. I knew Pam would love the car. I could imagine the excitement on her face if I bought if for her. And so I inquired as the price of the car since I had a certain price point I would not exceed. I couldn’t believe the asking price was well below our price point. I couldn’t resist. I bought the car, drove it home, & tucked it away in the garage for Pam to discover when she arrived home from her trip in another week.

That was one of the longest weeks of my life. I couldn’t wait for Pam to come home to receive her gift. I counted down the days & the hours until she arrived. I picked her up from the airport & took her home, the whole time anticipating the moment she would receive the car. We arrived home safely, went into the front door & got settled into the house. She & Eric Jr had tons of stories to tell about their trip. Finally, when the time was just right, I took her down to the garage. There it was! Her eyes widened until they were about to pop. her hands began shaking, she screeched one of her signature “ooooh’s” & then asked, “Is it really for me?”  She was ecstatic. That is a moment I will never forget!

God has given us a wonderful, marvelous, priceless gift. He has given us the Holy Spirit. In Luke 11:13 Jesus said, “If you 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!” This is an eternal, ever-present, power-giving, life-renewing gift from God. The Holy Spirit IS God. And He is given to US! Are you ready to connect with God? What is your response to His Gift?

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