What is a Spiritual Man?

This is not a theological article. It is simply my personal thoughts during my devotions.

Yasmin, and I were talking about a simple question on the drive to Clark from Subic. That question was: What does it mean to be a Christian? Thinking back to it, I think “simple” isn’t the best word to describe it, when it’s really more a “central” question, a question so important to know the answer to if one is to follow Christ. 

I thought about that question this morning in my devotions, but given my lack of mental power, I’m treating it the way I treat everything: moving away from never-ending intellectualising of a concept and concentrating my thoughts on how it can be applied and practiced.

What is a Christian Spiritual Man? There are many people who say they’re not religious but spiritual. I would respect this answer more if many of the people I’ve asked, “What do you mean by spiritual?” could answer it more meaningfully. But many times it’s a cop-out given by someone who is actually very minimally spiritual and incredibly materialistic. I wanted to learn for myself, in my simplified way, what is a Christian Spiritual man?

I ended up with these three indicators:

  1. Someone who has received Christ
  2. Someone who is led by the Holy Spirit
  3. Someone who produces the Fruit of the Spirit

Bellow are my thoughts on the three points.

Has received Christ

What does it mean to receive Christ?

  • Receive Him as savior (I am damned without you)
  • Receive Him as lover (I am alone without you)
  • Receive Him as provider (I have nothing without you)

I thought about how I can go through the day, in fact, most days, and not acknowledge my reliance on God for salvation, love, and provision. This shows clearly how un-spiritual a person I am. In fact, I would be lying if I ever said, “I am not religious. I am spiritual.” when the fact is I am neither. The more honest assessment is “I am very temporal.” as seen by what I m preoccupied with most. But a Christian recognizes this, and sees it as further proof of my need for a savior, that even in my best efforts, I am nowhere near as spiritual as I want to be nor need to be. When I realize this, and I am reminded of this almost daily, I do what Christians do: I repent and turn back to Christ, putting my trust in his salvation, love, and provision once more.

Is led by the Holy Spirit

  • The phrase “led by the Spirit” occurs only twice in the New Testament (in the context of battling with sin)
  • Walking in the Spirit means NOT walking in legalism nor licentiousness, which are both self-centred, but following the teachings of Christ, which does not merely ask the question, “Is this good for me?”, but goes beyond the satisfaction of the self, asking, “Does this please God?” and “Does this love others?”

I’ve always wondered about teachings connected to the Holy Spirit, particularly those about the Power of the Holy Spirit, the Speaking of Tongues, and what it exactly means to be “led by the Spirit”. I think most of my questions are the result of not knowing enough, from lack of knowledge, which is why I’m taking the time to study for myself what the Bible has to say on the topic. I do have to admit that I don’t understand many of what preachers say about the Holy Spirit, and worse, I don’t know how to apply it to my daily living. As I learn more, I am sure I’ll be able to improve my understanding in this area. To simplify it for myself, for now, instead of focusing on the more magical teachings on this subject, expecting some zap of power, some electric buzz, to help me do the right thing, I’m focusing on two questions:

  1. What is the leading of the Spirit, as seen in the instructions of the Jesus? I think I’ve many times been distracted by the question, “What does God want me to do?” when his instructions are very clear in areas like the 10 Commandments, love your neighbour as yourself, and pray unceasingly. I’m spending more time thinking about how to obey the instructions I have already been given more than asking for new instructions. It does make sense after all to do better at obeying what I’ve already been asked to do before asking for more.
  2. How do I design my life, how do I improve my decision-making process, and how do I strengthen my ability to act rightly? Given that the Bible already has a lot of instructions, how do I organize my existence to obey them? A quick review of myself does not reveal a life optimized for the self-less, God-centered, righteous life the Bible commands us to live. So I need to alter many things about how I think, decide, and act.

Produces the Fruit of the Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. – Galatians 5:22

There is a lot that has been said about this verse, but another verse keeps haunting me every time I read Galatians 5:22, and it’s this:

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. – Matthew 7:15-20

This is probably one of the simplest and soundest pieces of advice I have ever read on determining whether a person is credible and worth listening to: You will know them by their fruits. 

It’s very clear that it’s not about titles, not about reviews, not about who they’re connected to, and not about popularity. It’s possible to have all of those yet not bear the kind of fruit that comes from a good Christ-centred seed. 

This is also a good way to honestly determine my own spirituality. Is my life bearing the right fruit? Is my life even bearing fruit? What fruit am I bearing?

As usual, that one question I take to God in prayer leads to more questions than answers, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is a journey after all, one that’s full of romance, mystery, and depth. Of course it leads to more wonder. Wonderful things lead to more and more wonder. #DB

You Lost Me at “Thus Sayeth the Lord”

Before I continue, I would like to make a few things clear:

  1. I value very much the advice of wise people. (With an emphasis on “wise”.)
  2. I value very much the encouragement and guidance of a prophetic word.


I say these because I want to remove any potential accusation that I don’t like listening to wisdom nor respect supernatural insight. I do like listening to wisdom, so much so that I like to make sure, as much as I can, that whatever it is I am listening to is actually wisdom. And I do get amazed by supernatural insight, or what seems like supernatural insight. It amazes me so much that I don’t take the words for granted and take the time to see how they sync up with the Bible.

This helps me from falling for the lazy response of just accepting what someone else says. It doesn’t matter who said what, it is beneficial to validate before accepting.

When it comes to Christian beliefs, the validation comes from one primary source: the Bible. No word of knowledge, no prophetic insight, no pastoral advice, nor papal edict can counter (or should counter) Biblical teaching. Given that Christians believe in the Bible being God’s Word, we should be very careful with statements that claim to be from God, but cannot be validated using the Bible. This is why I personally have never felt comfortable using the phrase, “Thus sayeth the Lord…” to start out what really is a personal opinion on scriptural matters. “This sayeth the Lord” claims divine authority. A simple, “Here’s how I see this” claims personal perspective. If I claim divine authority, I better make sure that my claim is backed-up by the Bible. I would never use, for example, the president’s authority for something I am not sure is really authorized by him, even more, I will be very careful to say, “These are God’s words” since God is way beyond a president and His words are to be treated with more reverence.

This is true for theological interpretations and ideas as well. Sometimes, I’ll give my opinion on something and find that I’ve offended some very religious people, who come back at me with concepts like Calvinism, Cessationism, Continuism, Dispensationalism, Arminianism,God’s Perfect Choice-ism, and Spiritual Authority-ism. Frankly, I’m not an expert on these “Christian-isms”, even though I’ve probably read on them more than most, an exercise I find to be more confusing than clarifying. Here’s what I found while studying church history: a bunch of highly fallible men and women (not too different from you and I) making their best interpretations of the Bible and the world using the available data of the time, with views being refined as data improves, and a common ironic result: a church split.

Here’s what you’ll find over and over:
A small group of people passionately cling to a message and a mission, that group grows into a formidable group, that group tries to institutionalize themselves, with their growth comes a slowing down and weakening (though the leaders won’t notice this because of the sheer size), they find their institutions under attack by new ideas, new methods, new interpretations, and new people, they try to defend themselves by entrenching themselves in their beliefs (particularly by putting up dogmatic institutions), these lead to hard stances on issues instead of consideration, which leads to division, and which in turn leads to splits, and, despite their efforts, they cease to become the force they once were, surrendering this to another group, which was once a small bunch of people as well.

If you want to know how Jesus and 12 disciples have become a confusing range of Christian denominations, study church history. You’ll probably find what I found.

This is why I like to cut through the confusion of interpretations and “isms” to a very simple concept: Love God with your body, soul, and spirit, and Love others as yourself. I don’t need to get distracted with the discussions about the “elect” and the “saved”. It is hard enough to be self-less, to be humble, and to be truly prayerful, why complicate it with debates on things that have never been nor will be settled by men?

Ultimately, God is looking at the fruit of my life not whether I took the right position on these religious debates.

And what is my life’s fruit made of? Is there love? Is there goodness? Is there faith? Is there kindness? Is there self control? Do the spiritual virtues exist in my life? Am I loving towards my neighbor? Do I actually help the poor or do I just pity them? Do I actually improve the lives of others or do I simply complain about how hard life is? Do the results of my life show Godliness?

With these in mind, and with a clear goal to show God our love with the fruit of our lives,  I would like to share some simple points on receiving and giving  insight and advice:

  1. Loving God with your mind is beyond knowing dogma and theological interpretations. Loving God with your mind is about pointing our thoughts towards what is noble, lovely, kind, praise worthy, and Godly.
  2. Be very careful with claiming “Thus sayeth the Lord”. That’s serious business. And be very careful with receiving a “Thus sayeth the Lord” without validating with scripture. It will guard you from spiritual fatalism and spiritual weirdness.
  3. Get advise from WISE people. Wise isn’t necessary nice. Wise isn’t necessarily conventional. A teacher isn’t necessarily wise despite the title. A pastor isn’t necessarily wise despite the tile. A prophet isn’t necessarily wise either, not is a small group leader. Look for people who will help you bear good fruit.

Who is wise then? Who should we listen to? Let us end this post with some practical tips on who to listen to:

  1. Listen to people who have achieved results in the area you would like to improve on. This is super simple. If you want to be a better basketball player would you go to a chess player? Of course not. This is why I’m surprised when married men go to their single guy friends for advice. Or when married women do the same thing. Or when students would rather listen to their peers than experienced people. What do they know? Instead, look for people whose lives reflect the results you admire.
  2. Listen to people who have skin in the game, and even better, who have skin in your game. For example, I pay close attention to what my board tells me in business way more than to the praises or criticisms of random people. My board tends to be more scrutinizing. Why? They’ll lose money if I botch things. So they take me seriously. While it’s much more comfortable for me to bask in the compliments of others, their comments are worth much less than the words of my board. In the same way, the words of your spouse should be worth more than those of others. They have so much skin in the game. This isn’t to say everything they say is right. It is to say you pay close attention to them more than random insights or random news. This is why I like to surround myself with people who are invested in me, and I like to listen to them. This is also why I hardly ever go to these special talks or special dinners for traveling evangelists or wise men. In my observation these tend to lead to pop-wisdom. Nice sounding, but ultimately impractical in our specific contexts. I find that pop-wisdom gets in the way of real wisdom. Why would you listen to the “wisdom” of someone who gains nor losses nothing from his words over those of someone who is consistently with you, knows you better, and makes your life possible?
  3. Listen to people who know you. Sometimes, when I write, I’ll get a message from someone saying he or she wishes his or her parents had my perspective, or that their spouse were more open, or their boss. Frankly, while I am glad my ideas are causing people to think, I don’t think my perspective should quickly trump the perspective of someone who knows you better. Why? Because they know your context. For example, what if I see a person who wants to lose weight and I say, “Run sprints!” then their doctor says, “Don’t! It’s dangerous!” If that person listens to me, discounting the doctor’s advice, that person takes a risk. Maybe he has an enlarged heart. Maybe his foot is injured. Maybe there are conditions specific to his context that make my advice not just useless to him but actually detrimental for him. But you see this kind of behavior over and over, youth who will listen to their leaders more than their folks, spouses who will listen to their leaders more than their spouses, and employees who will listen to life hacks more than their managers. The context you’re in matters greatly. Listen to people who know your context.

Sometimes, when reading through old posts, I see things I said that make me cringe. Ideas I was so convinced were right then, but were actually either very specific for that context or not right at all. When I see these, I am at least comforted by the fact that my blog is littered with disclaimers, me blatantly saying these are own opinions. I’m not so worried about being wrong. I am wrong a lot. I am worried about a verse that has never stopped haunting me since I first read it:

“Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”
– Proverbs 30:6

In many ways we are seeing this around us. Many popular Christiani-sms falling away. Even in my own journey I’ve moved away from many of the interpretations taught to me, allowing my perspective to be refined, and becoming more in awe of God in the process. At the same time, I am more afraid of making flippant claims.

God’s Word is serious, and we need to be careful with how we treat it.

Here’s the good news, and it comes just one verse before the one I just shared:

“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”
– Proverbs 30:6

I love that verse. If you have pop-wisdom you will have easily-popped security. If you have the word of God, not needing to embellish it with popular perspectives, you will have a shield. I don’t know about you, with everything I face on a daily basis, I want a shield. #DB

Why You’re Insecure

I remember waking-up in cold sweats thinking about how I was going to manage to pay all the bills that month. Since taking over a company holding large debts, my own personal finances had suffered. The nervousness and cold sweats were symptoms of anxiousness that came from being financially insecure. I was anxious because my financial resources were not sufficient to meet my financial obligations. It wasn’t because the world was unfair, or because Capitalism is a bad system, or because someone was mistreating me, or even because God was testing. I was insecure for the same reason we’re all insecure: when the requirement of the moment is greater than our abilities to meet the requirement. While I would like to blame the circumstances for why I was working in an indebted company in the first place for my worries, the truth is I had accepted the circumstances and was now responsible for either meeting requirements or abandoning them.

On hindsight, given the things I have achieved since then, and given the greater odds we have defied, that thing that was causing me so much insecurity was actually not so bad. In that moment I felt like jumping out my apartment window. Today, that idea seems like such a petty reason to commit suicide. I realized that I could prevent that level of anxiousness by budgeting better and prioritizing my income more. Because I had not improved my income nor my savings, I was financially incapable, and because I was financially incapable, I was financially insecure. Because I was financially insecure, I, David, felt generally insecure. That one area in my life made my whole life insecure.

This realization taught me something very important: My insecurities, they’re not simply some abstract unmanageable thing called “insecurities”. They’re the result of not having improved my capabilities in certain important areas of my life. Most of what I was anxious about could have been reduced, and even prevented IF I had developed my abilities better. This is one of the problems of lumping issues into abstract categories instead of calling them out for what they really are – an exercise that our overly-sensitive society finds offensive.

Insecurity is not a condition people suffer from. It’s the result of lack of capability. Very insecure people have simply not developed the necessary capability to handle the requirement of that area.

The sad thing is we aren’t taught this. We believe that insecurity is caused by the conditions around us, the conditions of our childhood, of our relationships, of our work. If only people were more understanding, if our parents were better, if our boss paid more, and our government gave better help, we would fee more secure. By putting the responsibility of our own security on the shoulders of others, we conveniently remove the reality that we have not learned to make wise choices independent of external factors. As long as there is someone out there to blame for our insecurities, we will not single-mindedly deal with the reality of the sources of our insecurity.

Is it any surprise that the most financially insecure people you’ll find are usually those who don’t know how to excel in their jobs nor follow a prepared budget? You’ll find that financially secure people are doing what? Saving, investing, and creating value. That’s not a coincidence.

Is it any surprise that the most physically insecure people are those who have less than ideal physical capabilities due to bad habits? You don’t see too many people who are taking care their health worrying about sicknesses. Why? Because they’re improving their capabilities in that area.

Is it any surprise that the most career insecure people are those who have not found a craft they can truly excel in? In my experiences, I’ve heard more whining from non-performers than performers. Again, that’s not a coincidence.

The good news is this: our insecurity isn’t a curse or demonic attack. It’s the direct result of lack of capability. This may be bad news for those who want an excuse more than a cure. But for those of you who want a cure, we’re given a path towards victory. By being very honest about the source of our insecurity, we can now identify the practices we need to do to improve our capabilities in that area. If you’re financially insecure, get a better job, start saving, sell stuff, stop spending on stuff. If you’re physically insecure, change your diet, stop comparing your looks to others, use sunblock, whatever, develop another identity that’s not based on looks. If you’re insecure about your relationship, look at what you’re doing that’s causing it. If the solution to your insecurity is always someone else changing, then you’ll always be insecure, and insecure people are terrible partners. But if the solution is with you, than you don’t need to wait for someone else. You can change your situation, change your decisions, change your relationships, and do the necessary things for you to succeed.

I forget this a lot and get frustrated. Then I remind myself and just move on. I don’t need others to understand. I just need to do what’s necessary to get the life results I want. I’m not insecure because others make me insecure. I am insecure because I’m not capable in that area. I’m better off working on that area than blaming external things.

So the cure to insecurity isn’t a world where no one criticizes you, nor has no issues, nor has no adversity. The cure isn’t a world of greater self-esteem. The cure is more self-mastery. The most secure people in the world have achieved a level of competence in that area of security. As long as we are incompetent, we will always feel insecure.

As long as we’re bad at handling our money, we will be financially insecure.

As long as we have unhealthy habits, we will have physical insecurities.

As long as we’re not the best at work, we will have career insecurities.

As long as we’re not really humbling ourselves before God, we will have spiritual identity insecurities.

This isn’t a self-esteem or dignity issue as popular advice wants to call it. It’s a maturity issue. It’s a competence issue. It’s a self-mastery issue.

I want to end with this idea: Feelings of insecurity is a wonderful indicator of that which we need to grow in. Just like a headache makes us focus on our head, insecurity points out areas that we need to heal, need to develop, and need to master. When we address insecurity issues with “self-esteem cures”, it’s like trying to cure a diarrhoea with a pain reliever. Nice try, but you’re still going to crap like nuts – on everyone around you. The problem isn’t the pain. The problem is reason behind the pain. That reason is inside us. That’s what we need to be dealing with. The pain is a gift to point that out to us before it hurts us and others even more.

**Bonus Section: Beyond You**
When thinking about this issue, I asked a few people, live and online, about their thoughts on insecurity. They were helpful in helping me write this post. One thing I noticed is this:

In general, we are so caught up in our own financial, physical, emotional, and relational requirements, that our days go by simply responding to these requirements. Very few, and I mean very very very few, are truly diligently working on a life that’s bigger than himself or herself. When you live a small existence, why be surprised that you feel small and insecure? Of course you feel small. You are small.

Here’s my advice: Live your days beyond you. Make it a point that each day is building towards a greater impact in the lives of others. When you’re busy with things much bigger than yourself you’re forced to grow, to mature, and to expand. You’re forced to be bigger so that you can meet the requirements of your big goal. What happens when you continuously grow towards a grand purpose? You develop more and more mastery. That’s where confidence comes from. Confidence doesn’t come from someone nicely lying to you, telling you you’re a good person when you’re really inconsequential. Confidence comes from know you are consequential. Your existence makes a big difference. The lives of others won’t be the same without you.

If you want self-esteem go for self-mastery. If you do you’ll have both. But if you seek self-esteem before the mastery, chances are you’ll never have either.


Feel free to interact with me on my Telegram Channel. I would love to hear your thoughts.