Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Wind in the Pines, Wind in the Corn

The exact location when the idea for this blog came to me.

On my morning walk recently I was on a part of the path that had a set of pine trees on the one side of the path and a cornfield on the other side. A mountain breeze was blowing. I heard the wind in the pines and the wind in the corn, but the sound of the wind was different on the two sides of the path. The wind swished through the tens of thousands of pine needles and rustled through the thousands of corn leaves, stereophonic diversity!

The Hebrew word (the Old Testament of the Bible was originally written in Hebrew) “ruach” can mean either wind, breath, or spirit. So, too, the Greek word pneuma (the New Testament was originally written in Greek); it can mean either wind, breath, or spirit.

Often, when I feel or hear the wind blow, it reminds me of God’s Spirit who can blow around, into, and out of us. Yes, the breath of God can be as close to us as our own breath! The astonishing truth is that His breath (Spirit) can give us spiritual life, resuscitating us and refreshing us.

What is also amazing, and this is where the imagery of the wind in the pines and the wind in the corn comes into play, is that the Holy Spirit of God seeks to blow upon each of us in a very unique way! You and I can be uniquely empowered by God to do His good work in such a special way that no one else could take our place.

This truth can provide the incentive we need to quit playing the comparison game; we don’t have to be like somebody else we know, we’re to be the unique person God’s calling us to be. This truth can also provide the antidote we need to overcome the prideful attitude that we’re better than someone else.

The wind makes a unique sound depending on what it’s blowing upon. The Spirit of God, His breathing presence, can also be wonderfully different and unique for each of us, making each of us of special use to Him!

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)

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Catching the Wind of God’s Spirit

windturbinesSmallIn southwestern Minnesota there’s a line of rolling hills called Buffalo Ridge, home to hundreds of wind turbines. Described as “giant albino pinwheels” by Mary Hoff on the Minnesota’s National Department of Natural Resources, they tower 250 feet high. Each produces enough electrical energy to provide the needs of 250 homes.

I’ve photographed them a number of times, always amazed at their size and the slow but steady turning of their blades that produces a loud swishing sound when you stand beneath them. I’ve also watched as a still windmill’s blades begin to slowly turn in the wind to join the other windmills with blades already rotating. Apparently someone somewhere has given the command to pitch the blades so they catch the wind from their previous angle that allowed the wind to blow by.

I see in these wind turbines a metaphor for faith in God. The Bible refers to God as spirit. In fact, the Holy Spirit (the third “person” in the triune Godhead) is referred to as wind or breath. The entire Bible makes it clear that our relationship with God is contingent on our cooperating with Him. Because He wants a relationship He does not impose Himself upon us or intrude in our lives. This means we have a choice of how we position ourselves in relationship to God.

We can live…

… believing He does not exist…

… believing He does exist but acting as if He doesn’t…

… believing He exists but determined to live our own way anyway…

… believing He exists and wanting to be in a personal and cooperative relationship with Him.

The choice is ours as to how we position ourselves with God.

There’s always wind blowing on this earth; that’s why, for centuries, people have built windmills, and now wind turbines, to capture the wind as an energy source. God’s Spirit is always “blowing” as well. We can capture His presence and power by positioning ourselves in faith to be open to Him. This means living each day with the belief He is nearer to us than the air we breathe (His “breath” closer to us than our own breath). This means believing in Him enough to trust Him with ourselves, willing to yield to His will and way for us each and every day. The blades of a wind turbine are set to catch the wind. We have the wonderful possibility of setting ourselves to catch the blowing of His Spirit!

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”  (Romans 8:6 ESV)

The Sparks of the Spirit Fly Differently

spiritI set the shutter of my camera at a fast setting to catch the sparks of a campfire going in different and crazy directions. Did you notice: some of the sparks actually made U turns?

Whenever I attempt to capture a campfire like this I always have in mind the appearance of tongues of flames over the disciples of Jesus when the Holy Spirit came upon them at what we call Pentecost. “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:3-4a)

When we’re connected to God, a connection that comes through His Son Jesus, we’re filled with God’s presence, His Holy Spirit. One of the interesting attributes of God’s Spirit is that He impacts each of us in a very unique way, making us gifted people in different ways so that we are a unique gift from God to the world around us. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.” (1 Corinthians 12:4)

We can really mess ourselves up when we start comparing ourselves to others. We disqualify ourselves from God’s unique call upon us when we think we have to be like someone else. Sure, there are essential qualities and characteristics that all followers of the Lord should exhibit and in this way we are to be similar, similar to Jesus, whom we should desire to emulate (like exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit). But each of us is to be a unique follower of Jesus, a crazily unique spark of His flaming Holy Spirit!

External VS Internal Motivation

aaaaapyyiy copyOne of my favorite experiments that I’ve come across was conducted with college students where some were paid for doing puzzles and others were not. Later, all were given some free time to read magazines, do more puzzles, or whatever. Those who had been paid for doing the puzzles worked less on puzzles in their free time than those who had not been paid. “Rewards had…turned the play into work. Extrinsic rewards undermined intrinsic motivation.” (The Human Connection, Bolt & Myers, p. 78)

Are we externally or internally motivated? I suspect most of us would answer, “Well, that depends on the situation.” In many situations we may feel we have both external and internal motivation. A job for which we get paid certainly has the primary external motivation of being paid for doing the job, but if we’re only motivated by the money we’re probably not going to last at it or do a good job at it. In a close relationship we should have a primary internal motivation of caring about the person, but we also may have some external motivation of not wanting to make the person mad or wanting the person to give us what we want.

I think it’s safe to say that internal motivation is almost always better than external motivation. This rings true to the teaching of the Scriptures. We sometimes think of God’s laws being external, even having been written on stone tablets and hand-delivered from God by Moses. But it has always been God’s intention that we internalize Him and follow after Him with primarily internal motivation. The prophet was speaking for God when he declared, “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33)

Here’s how I see this working out in a practical way: Anything I believe to be a right and good thing to do should be part of God’s call upon my life, if not I shouldn’t do it. Because it is part of God’s call upon me then this should become my primary motivation for doing it, not because I’m getting paid, or that I feel it’s expected of me, or for any other possible externally motivated reasons. I want to do it because it’s God’s plan for me, because I want to please Him and serve Him. Shifting from humanly oriented external motivation to divinely called internal motivation is the way to live!