Well Equipped

A cheerful and excited “Amen!” rang from the balcony of our church this past Sunday. It came after a “Can I get an Amen?” moment, in which the adults of the congregation responded with a collective “Amen” of a respectful, inside voice tone. But my four year son who had come to church that day dressed as Spider-man could not resist giving it more “umph”. This excited the young guest pastor, who had stated earlier in his sermon that he enjoyed an energetic crowd, and everyone got a laugh when he pointed out that “Spider-man” had given an “Amen” from the rafters.

My favorite super hero is Spider-man and my kids who have recently discovered Spider-man can’t get enough. This would explain why my son went to church looking like Spider-man. I love that Spider-man or Peter Parker, was just a regular kid, given an incredible gift. It wasn’t because he was rich or from another planet, it because one day he got bit by a genetically altered spider. And while he did use his powers for good and saved people from “regular” bad guys and epic comic book bad guys, he still faced the same daily struggles we all face. Money problems, balancing work, school and relationships, all while being Spider-man. He also didn’t have (at least in the movies) tons of gadgets, or fancy vehicles, just what was with in him. His abilities were all he needed to be Spider-man.

This got me thinking about the gifts that God gives us to fulfill our place in the Kingdom. Little things (and sometimes big things) that give us courage, grace, and help us to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Sometimes we may feel like we need add-ons, extras, strengths from the world or our own “two cents”. But the amazing thing is God gives us everything we need to be the person He needs us to be, we don’t need extras or gadgets. God supplies our needs and surrounds us with the people we need in our lives that help us stay on track. The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:10, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” What really sticks out to me in this verse is the call to faithfully administer God’s grace, faith requires a steadfastness, a focus on staying the course. Being faithful means not swaying, not looking else where, simply standing on the promise and the gift that has been given. And knowing, trusting that the gift from God, is enough.

Anakin during Episode II, was beginning to look else where, he was losing his faith in the Jedi and the light side of the Force. He didn’t feel like it was enough, he believed that he needed more to accomplish tasks that he wanted to accomplish. The Jedi, like Spider-man, did not need a whole bunch of “stuff” to be Jedi. While yes I know that they had spaceships, comlinks, and few other gadgets, but they could still be Jedi even with out those things. To be Jedi, all they needed was the Force and to a lesser extant their lightsaber. From the Force, breathed everything they needed to be the peace makers of the galaxy, they didn’t need anything else. Anakin lost sight of that, lost himself, his gifts were twisted, and were used to serve the evil emperor.

How often do we allow other things to get in the way of following God’s plan, wander away from the place where we stand on His promise, and lose faith in the gift that has been given. Thinking that it needs something else, and we may not even know what that something is but we go looking for it anyway. Like the Jedi, whose strength came from the force, our strength comes from God. Like Peter Parker, who only needed what was with in him to be Spider-man, we only need our God-given gifts to fulfill our place in the Kingdom. With God on our side, we are well equipped.

He is enough, nothing else needed.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” -James 1:17

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Selfish Ambition

Darth Vader is made up of many things; pride, impatience and the effects of bad company just to name a few. He is also full to the brim with anger and fear, and on top of that he was selfish. Anakin Skywalker was given a wonderful gift, one that was to benefit many people, to include himself and everyone that he loved. Yet his power was wasted-at least for a while-and was made to fuel selfish ambition for both himself and Palpatine. Well mainly Palpatine.

Anakin was made to believe that turning to the dark side was a selfless act, he was taking one for the team if you will. He even told Padame that he was doing to protect her and that it would make the galaxy a better place, full of peace, justice and security. However, it was really a selfish act because he was not really doing it to protect her, he was doing it so that he would not have deal with losing her. He was really protecting himself and, to gain the power he just had to have right then. And no one, other than Palpatine, gained anything from this move. Most of the Jedi where dead, Padame died from a broken heart, Obi Wan and Yoda went into hiding and Anakin, well he was imprisoned by his choices.

The Bible tells us in James 3:16, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” What followed the fall of Anakin Skywalker took twenty years to undo and the time of the Empire was full of disorder and plenty of evil. Anakin’s selfishness caused him and those around him to pay a heavy price. His weaknesses were used against him, to make him into something he never should have been.

The enemy of our souls works in very much the same way. He knows what he can use to pick at you and he knows who or what it will effect. Our choices are important but our motivations are just as important if not more so. They can effect everyone around us but especially those closest to us, for we are the gateway to the people we care about. The enemy knows that, and he also knows the spiritual gifts that we possess and the function they are meant to serve in God’s kingdom. Don’t be weighed down by selfishness, pride or impatience. Trust in Gods timing. Surround yourself with good company. Be willing to be humble. Learn to trust in the voice of the spirit, allow him to direct your path. Don’t give in to selfish ambition, for your gifts could be made to serve the enemy for your soul.

In the end it was a selfless act, a truly selfless act, that brought Anakin back and fulfilled his calling that benefited everyone, to include himself. The Bible says in Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” God calls us to value others and their needs above our own. Don’t allow the goodness of your calling to be picked away by selfishness, for you’ll never know (until you get to heaven at least) just how many people it is meant to benefit.