What buying new shoes can teach you about following Christ

A young man recently asked me about my experiences in the human life…or the absence of them. He asked if I’d ever done this or that. He wanted to convince me that somehow I was missing out on life due to my absence of experience of certain earthly pleasures.

While considering how to respond to his inquiries, I just happened to reflect on my recent experience of buying new shoes. My answer came in the form of this story.

Making the Best Choice

Just weeks before our talk, I went to my favorite shoe store to find a replacement pair for some worn out shoes. Wanting to be efficient with my time, I decided to quickly scan the aisles to see what kind of selection was available. Having spotted a few potential replacements I went straight to my first pick—a reasonably priced, yet dignified looking, pair of black oxfords. When I tried them on, they fit perfectly. My intuition told me these were the right shoes. I could look no farther, simply take them to the register and complete my purchase.

But could it be that simple? There were so many other options. I convinced myself that I should try the other possibilities. After trying on a half a dozen other pairs, I determined that my first choice had been the best. Within the hour I was completing the purchase that I had felt the best about from the beginning.

I had only spent the better part of an hour “exploring”—a harmless waste of my time. At least I was convinced that my original choice was the best.

A Wise Choice Saves Time

How do I apply such an experience to the young man’s inquiry? I believe the journey of many a young Christian may resemble my shoe shopping trip—however with a much more costly expense of their most precious asset—time…their best time, their youth.

Yes, it is possible to explore the world, try all its fare and come to the eventual conclusion that a life given wholly to Christ is the best choice. But as a young believer, why not make the best choice from the beginning? If you’ve enjoyed the reality of Christ even once, you can be assured that a life given wholly to enjoying and following Him is the best value.

If your first intuition is to choose to follow the Lord, why take the suggestion that you need to spend years of your life looking for something else, trying many things. Making Christ your first choice, can save needless years.

In fact, in God’s eyes such an offering of our youthful years to Him is extremely precious. The psalmist said,

“Your people will offer themselves willingly/ In the day of Your warfare, / In the splendor of their consecration. / Your young men will be to You / Like the dew from the womb of the dawn” (Psalms 110:3).

To consecrate our life wholly to Christ, to willingly offer ourselves to Him is to take the way full of splendor. It is satisfying both to Him and to us. I don’t regret a day of choosing Christ, enjoying Christ and living wholly to Him. I can only regret the days of living for something else.

“Lord Jesus, You are the best. I’m attracted by You. I make You my first and best choice. I willingly consecrate my life with all my heart, time and energy to You. Just keep me loving and enjoying You every day. Thank you that I can peacefully turn my back on all the world’s pleasures knowing that everything I need is in You. Praise You Lord!”

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Is there a difference between the spirit and the soul?

First, it is vitally important to realize that in the Bible, there is a definite difference between the human spirit and soul. Second, it is equally important to realize that our experience of this distinction very much affects our progress in the Christian life.

So in this post we’ll consider the difference between the spirit and the soul—not mainly from the side of Bible teaching, but from the aspect of life experience. But, before we can come to our experience we must first have a base in God’s word.

In the Bible man is made with three parts—spirit, soul, and body.

First Thessalonians 5:23 says, “And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete…”

No one would say that our body and soul are the same, but some people may consider our soul and spirit to be practically the same. However, 1 Thessalonians 5:23 tells us clearly that our spirit and soul are two distinct parts.

Another verse that emphasizes this distinction is Hebrews 4:12:

“For the word of God is living and operative and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow…”

Here there are the “joints and marrow” which refer to the body plus the “soul and spirit,” revealing again that we have these three parts.

It’s also important to see that our soul and spirit can be “divided.” Hence, they’re different. They can be compared to “the joints and marrow.” As marrow is hidden inside the joints, so our spirit is concealed in our soul.

Just like we have to cut through the joints to get to the marrow, we have to cut through the soul to get to the spirit. This is why it’s often difficult initially to discern our spirit from our soul. I know this was my experience.

To illustrate this distinction, we may use the illustration of three concentric circles:

The outer circle refers to our body. Our body is our outer part containing our five senses with which we contact all the things of the physical, material realm.

The middle circle refers to our soul. Our soul is our inner part containing our mind, emotion and will with which we contact all the things of the psychological realm.

The inner circle refers to our spirit. Our spirit is our innermost part with which we contact God and substantiate all the things of the spiritual realm.

How can we practically divide our spirit from our soul?

So let’s consider how we can apply the dividing of soul and spirit in our daily Christian life.

Often our soul is plagued with anxious thoughts, troublesome feelings, and impure intentions. It’s a “mine field” that keeps us from enjoying Christ.

Second Timothy 4:22 says, “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.”

The Lord is now with our spirit and with Him is grace—God as our enjoyment. But how do we get there? How do get through this deadly “mine field” of our soul?

We already mentioned that Hebrews 4:12 speaks of the “dividing of soul and spirit.” But the application of this dividing is by God’s living and operative word. It is God’s word, as this sharp sword, that is able to pierce our soul in order to break it away from our spirit.

In my last post, “How Bible Reading Can Change Your Life,” I referred to the awesome power of the Scriptures.  My friend’s heart was touched by God’s word to such an extent, that she could no longer remain an atheist, but chose to become a Christian.

These same Scriptures are so powerful that they can also cut through our thick soul, dividing our soul from our spirit.  God’s word can stop our anxious thoughts, calm our troubled emotions, and subdue our stubborn will. This has been my experience.

As we open the Bible, we just need to open to the Lord, and incline our heart to Him. Then read a few Bible verses and turn them into short, spontaneous prayers to Lord—thanking Him, praising or petitioning as we feel led. In this way we can enter into fellowship with Him in our spirit.

“Lord Jesus, thank you for showing us the difference between our soul and our spirit. Thank you also for giving us Your living and operative word as such a practical way to divide our soul and spirit. Lord, remind us to apply Your word by prayer, thanksgiving and praise so we may enjoy You in our spirit every day.”

I hope that this practical consideration of the difference between soul and spirit proves as beneficial to you as it has to me. Also, If you’ve received help concerning the dividing of soul and spirit, I’d like to hear from you.

For further development of what I covered in this post, you might want to read Chapter Three of The Economy of God by Witness Lee, especially the section on “Dividing the Soul from the Human Spirit.” It’s available online at ministrybooks.org.


How Bible Reading Can Change Your Life

Last year, my wife and I were hosting a dinner gathering in our home and one of our dinner guests was a young woman from China. She was attending a university in the US and was visiting with us while attending a Christian conference. During our dinner together, we asked her to share her testimony of how she became a Christian. Her story confirmed to me the awesome power of the Scriptures and how simply reading the Bible can change a person’s life.

Reading the BibleThe Best Diversion

She began by telling us her story about growing up in China where she and her family were all atheists. She knew nothing of God or His word. However, while attending a university in China she had the most amazing experience.

She would often go to the library each day to seek some diversion from her studies. Though she was a student of math and science, she felt she would like to read something different—possibly something on philosophy. But when she searched the shelves of the library she could find nothing suitable to read.

Turning across the aisle she noticed the religion section. At the bottom of one of the shelves she found a large, white-covered book, with the title “Holy Bible” on it. Having never read a Bible before, she began from the first page in Genesis. She repeated this practice for a number of days and then stopped.  However, after a couple of weeks of not reading the Bible, she felt something was missing. She had this strong desire to continue her Bible reading.

The Awesome Power of the Scriptures

While she was reading she came to the Bible verse that says, “And the dove came to him toward evening time, and there in her beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had abated from the earth (Gen. 8:11).

When she came to this verse she was so deeply touched that she said, “I want to become a Christian.” No one told her that she needed to become a Christian, and the subject of this verse wasn’t even about becoming a Christian. Instead, the power of the Scriptures touched her related to the need of becoming a Christian, and this simple experience began her quest to find out how she in fact could become a Christian.

Although time does not permit me to tell the rest of her story, I cannot help but marvel at how a born atheist, without ever hearing the preaching of the gospel, could want to become a Christian just by reading the first eight chapters of the book of Genesis (which, by the way, does not even mention Christ’s name). All I can say is that the Spirit of God is ready to meet people on any page of the Bible.

How many lives could be changed if more people would pick up the simple practice of my Bible-reading friend. Many more of us could share how reading God’s word changed our lives.

I know my own experience confirms this. Though born in a Christian family, I can still testify that it was my own personal reading of the Scriptures that sent me on a quest to enter into the reality of what I read in God’s word.

A Simple Daily Practice of Reading God’s Word

I believe you’ll be amazed at what ten minutes of daily Bible reading can do. This simple daily practice of reading God’s word with prayer will change your life. For more details on this you may want to read my post entitled, “Practical Points on Bible Reading…

Since one of the main reasons people give for not reading the Bible is that they don’t understand it, I’ll also recommend my favorite study  Bible—the Recovery Version. It’s a Bible you can really understand. For more than two decades, my personal reading habit has been strengthened by all the helpful features of the Recovery Version. You can read the Recovery Version Bible online, and you can order a free copy of the New Testament Recovery Version Bible from Bibles for America.

Thank you for reading this post, and I hope that all of us can pick up this habit of daily reading the Bible to experience the power of God’s word.