Spiritual Awareness

A feral Cold Creek horse finds some winter grass with the Spring Mountain’s Wheeler Peak in the background. Not to be confused with Nevada’s second tallest peak in the Great Basin National Park, this Wheeler Peak is just 9,200 feet in elevation. The camera angle is looking due west from the Cold Creek pond.

It is wonderful how a few hours of fishing can provide a special place and time to contemplate things that are important. Today at Cold Creek was one of those moments.

I have come across a couple of books that have helped me to be more attuned to the Holy Spirit that dwells in me. Like all Christian believers, I know I am saved by faith alone (it is a gift from God that no one can earn). But perhaps also like other Christians, sometimes when I am at my weakest, Satan gets into my mind asking me questions like, “Are you sure you are saved?” So, my mind takes me down a road of potholes filled with self-doubt. I am thankful to report that re-reading the Word and listening to the power of the Spirit within me always places me back on firm footing.

One of the areas I seem to examine when fighting this spiritual battle with Satan is questioning my works, i.e., the evidence that will convict me of my salvation. If you are like me, you can succumb to the falsehood that you are not bearing adequate fruit. The works of your faith do not match your potential.

I have grown to realize that we rarely, if ever, see the fruit of our deeds. Friends and acquaintances, and almost always strangers, hardly ever provide you feedback on the profound change your actions and/or words made in their lives. Sometimes it is the simplest of things that bear the greatest fruit, and maybe that is by the Lord’s design to protect us from our worldly egos.

This handsome Rainbow trout, likely stocked this February, was caught on a sink-tip line I cast with my Sweetgrass bamboo fly rod. Casting that “Boo” rod is a great joy.
It was fooled by a size 10 Denny Rickards’ Stillwater Nymph that is barely visible on the other side of the lower jaw. For several decades, Rickards nymphs have been one of my “go to” flies.

I will introduce those two books in a moment, but first I’d like to wade through some scripture references about “faith” and “good works.” Please stay with me on this.

In the Old Testament, Isaiah 11 prophesied the future coming of Jesus the Messiah. In verse 2 of this chapter, Isaiah writes, “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him –  the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD.” When Jesus ascended into heaven after His crucifixion, He left us the Holy Spirit as our counselor and advocate. The powers/gifts described by Isaiah are the same Jesus bestowed upon us.

I am aware of James’s warning that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Some might contrast James’s admonition against the many “saved by faith” verses in the New Testament (a smattering of which are Mark 16:16, Luke 7:50, John 3:15, John 5:24, and Ephesians 2:8) and falsely declare James has to be wrong. The Ephesians 2:8 verse is interesting as it declares salvation from our sins is an undeserved gift bestowed upon those who believe in Jesus.  But the following verse 9 provides the reason “good works” cannot earn your salvation: “not by works, so that no one can boast.”  

In John 14:15-31 we are told that if we receive the Holy Spirit into our lives, He will change us, change our thoughts and our behaviors.  Jesus stated that he would send the Holy Spirit to be our “helper,” our “advocate” who will guide and strengthen us so that we may “obey my commands” (verse 23).  Our faith and love for Jesus will change us, and we will bear fruit.

Galatians 5:13-26  further describes our life with the power of the Holy Spirit. Verse 22 describes the fruit of the Spirit as “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Such gifts free us from the law, a law we cannot keep by our own power due to our sinful nature.

So, believers who have accepted the Living Word of God and received the Holy Spirit into their lives will indeed bear fruit. They will be kind, gentle, and good. They will love their neighbors, provide for the poor and sick. But we must not confuse ourselves that our good deeds earn us eternal life with the Lord… our faith and love for Jesus comes first.

In Matthew 7:21-28, Jesus says some false disciples will claim to have done deeds in His name, but that they are imposters who did not “obey the will of my Father” (v. 21) and did not “put into practice the Word of Jesus” (v. 24).  They will be rebuked by Jesus, who will say, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” So, deeds alone will not get us into heaven.

Two wild horses (the darker one is a dark bay, and the lighter is a chestnut, sometimes called sorrel) drinking from the pool at the bottom of the Cold Creek Pond outlet.

So, about those books.

A few years ago, I learned that a reader of my blog was chair of the Communication Studies Department for a college in Saratoga, California. From there I discovered that Randy Fujishin had a website to assist Christian leaders with their communication skills. I believe it was on that website where I discovered his first Christian book, Your Ministry of Conversation. I like to talk, but can sometimes be overbearing as my friends will attest. I bought Randy’s book (click the Amazon hyperlink in the previous title) and was surprised by it’s simple yet brilliant approach to conversations that potentially, with the help of the Holy Spirit, can be life affirming and produce fruit in the lives of others. Being a communications specialist, Randy provides practical advice and techniques on how to use everyday conversations to “encourage, reframe, support, guide, and even pray for those individuals the Lord brings across your path.”  It’s equally useful for talkaholics (like me, who need to slow down and listen more intently) all the way to bashful folk who are prone to avoid conversations despite their God-given ability to share and empathize with others. The meat of the book is barely over 130 pages; it’s a quick read, but you’ll find yourself using it as a resource and refresher for you communication skills. Best of all, Randy based these communication skills on what Jesus taught and did according to the Gospels. Here’s a Chapter 2 excerpt that might ease any concern that this book might be too intense for anyone:

The purpose of your ministry of conversation is not to have the person accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior every time you enter into conversation. Your purpose is to be a blessing by showing the love of Jesus in the words you use and the things you say. You’re not the evangelist winning souls in every city on the map with eloquent sermons and convincing delivery. That’s someone else’s ministry.

Your Ministry of Conversation, by Randy Fujishin

The other book was a recent gift from a brother in my Men’s Group. Dave happened to attend a church service in a small Colorado town he recently traveled through. As part of the service, the church distributed a little book titled Holy Moments by Matthew Kelly. David asked if he could have extra copies to share with his Men’s Group, which is how I obtained mine (use the Amazon hyperlink in the previous title to get yours). Similar to Randy, Matthew builds upon the truth that the simplest of things can often snowball into the greatest events. He describes the clarifying thought, unknowingly planted by a Christian mentor, he had at age 15 as, “some moments are holy, some moments are unholy, and our choices can guide a moment in either direction.” These holy moments happen continually throughout your day. Too often we do not recognize them. Your wife asks you to take out the garbage while you are watching your favorite sporting event. You are watching a movie when you suddenly discover it is mildly pornographic. You notice a senior citizen in need of assistance loading their groceries into their vehicle. Opportunities to “pay it forward” after a kindness was bestowed upon you. Just making the time to engage in a conversation with someone in need of a kind spirit who will listen and care. These are small moments; they appear throughout our day but we often miss them.  Here’s an except from Part Three, The Divine Plan, of Mathew’s book:

Holy moments are usually small and simple. This is why we dismiss the idea that they could transform our lives and change the world. We have a bias against things that are simple, even though there is genius in simplicity. We have a bias against small, thinking bigger is always better.

Holy Moments, by Matthew Kelly

My prayer is that you come to recognize the holy moments in your life, whether it be a task that needs to be done or a conversation that needs to occur, and that you choose to meet God as He is working in those moments.

Obscured by the hills on the left of this photo is the town of Indian Springs, adopted home of the Creech Air Force Base. Looking off the left of the photo beyond Creech (i.e., northwest), is the Nevada National Security Site (N2S2 or NNSS ), previously known as the Nevada Test Site (NTS) until 2010. I was privileged to work for the NTS contractors from 1981 through 1998, starting as an internal auditor and rising to the level of Treasurer and Director of Finance. I became fascinated with the NTS engineering and physics that was the mainstay of our national security from the end of World War II through the end of the cold war with the old USSR.

Author: FisherDad

I am a Christian who has been married to my wife for over four decades, with six children and four grandchildren so far. I have retired from a string of successful occupations as a certified public accountant, a chief financial officer, and a registered municipal advisor. I have been a fly angler for almost five decades. My one and only article submission was published by Southwest Fly Fishing magazine (now American Fly Fishing). You can learn more about me by clicking on “About” on the top of my blog page.

18 thoughts on “Spiritual Awareness”

  1. Thanks Mark,
    Your writing is wonderful. I believe people who say they are “saved“ and do nothing else, or worse sin like there is no hell, are just hot air. God wants us to use the graces of baptism to show others the way to heaven. A small act of kindness or a kind word can boost someone’s day. You never know who is watching you.

    My new mantra
    God come to my assistance, Lord, make haste to help me.

  2. Very well stated & written with all of your heart & being.

    I pray that the “Far Sides” that I share with you daily are acceptable in The Lord’s & Jesus’ eyes! Surely would not want that to be held against us on our “Day of Reckoning”!

  3. Brother Mark,

    Thank you for another engaging, relevant, and spiritually enriching blog post. I always enjoy your thoughtful and practical suggestions to do things that matter.

    You bless and encourage your readers with style and grace. Thank you.


  4. “God Moments,” “That’s a God thing.” Christians have those moments when they realize that God intervened and I think there are tons more, every day that we don’t know about. You wouldn’t know that I have an appointment with the veterinarian in 1 hour and 14 minutes to put an old friend down after 14 years. This post of yours is timely for me and you wouldn’t even have known it. Two verses comfort me at these junctions of life. “A Sparrow doesn’t fall to the ground with God knowing” and “Jesus wept”. He missed his friend.

    Vince S.

    1. Vince, I am very sorry you are putting down your “old friend” today. For those of us who have a love for animals, especially our favorite pets with whom we have cultivated special relationships, it can be a horrible burden. I’ll state the obvious that often it is a burden of love that propels us to relieve our “old friends” from their pain and suffering, even though we do not want to lose them. Thank you for sharing your pain, and know that I’ll be praying for you this morning.

  5. Dear Mark,
    Thank you once again for sharing the Fathers sweet spirit within you. The father gives us many opportunities each day to be a blessing to others. I, for one love to talk , but sometimes our light of the Holy Spirit within us shines brighter by not what we say , but by what we don’t say. Our actions of kindness and caring say much more than words. Being a good listener is a great virtue. Jesus was most definitely like this. God Bless you this day and every day going forward my friend.

    1. Fred, thank you for your insight. You are so right about listening. Referring back to James, 1:19 instructs us to be quick to listen and slow speak… especially important if we are to be receptive to the Spirit’s “holy moments.” Asking questions and waiting on the answers can also be an effective technique to invite others to share their own burdens and needs. Randy’s “Your Ministry of Conversation” has some great instruction on this biblical principle.

      Fred, may the Lord continue to bless you and keep you…

  6. Thank you Mark for your blog…
    here, trying to make my moments holy, it is kind of nice that when you try to work in your moments you bring and you think and you feel the presence of God more often during the day.

    1. Hey Lui, thank you for your comment. I always appreciate what you have to say. Looking forward to our trip this week. May He continue to bless you and your family.

  7. Another awesome article in support of the graciousness of our Lord, Jesus! Thanks for the memory talking about our journey together for about 18 years at work. It was a blessing to be working under your command in the finance department.
    Also it is so nice to see the horses looking sooo much better than they did a few years ago when they were skin and bones because of the lack of food and water.
    Be blessed my friend of many years…

    1. Oh Karen, it was I who benefited from working with really good people like you, Candy F., Evelyn S., Fran G., and Anita. G.. The male mentors like Jim J., John F., Carl N., Merl R., and even Peter Z. were more focused on my professional growth than my spiritual growth, which I can forgive as they were men born of the WWII generation when “men were men,” if you get my drift.

      I always remember that Cold Creek has a special place in your heart as well. It’s just another special thing we share in our lives, isn’t it.

      I know our Lord has a special place for you in heaven.

  8. Hi Mark, I am a fly fisher and originally found your blog to check in on some of my favorite fishing locations (Comins, Dacy, Ruby Marshes, etc…) but I find your easy connection of fishing to the spiritual principles of faith, salvation, and forgiveness totally inspiring. So thank you.

    I am also a rider, and thought I’d mention that the coat colors of your two cinnamon horses are actually two very distinct colors among horses. The darker is a dark bay, and the lighter a chestnut (sometimes called sorrel.) I know you’re interested in the beauty of nature and thought I’d let you know about that!

    Thanks for your words, you have a gift that is very rare.


    1. Andy, thank you for your assist on the horses. Recently I’ve been following a Montana cattle and horse rancher’s Vlog, and when I wrote the caption for these photos I had a nagging suspicion that I was not doing them justice. I will correct my captions using your wording. Most of all, thank you for letting me know that my words touched you. (If the Lord’s willing, I hope to be fishing Comins next Wednesday and Thursday.)

      All my best to you!

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