All The Smoke: Practical Approach To Building Spiritual Muscle.

You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2-4/MSG)

I began to think about a practical approach to Growth and Development. Regardless of what we’re interested in developing: our physical muscle; our spiritual muscle; our investment portfolio; our relationships with others; our relationship with ourselves; etc. 

Each of those tasks have three general components:

1) A desired outcome or goal

2) A plan to achieve the goal 

3) Sacrifice, Routine, and Discipline. 


Think about the untold stories of greatness being displayed in Michael Jordan’s ‘The Last Dance’ Docuseries. Jordan and the Bulls desired outcome was to become NBA Champions. After losing their third consecutive Eastern Conference Finals (the final matchup went to 7 games
), the team chose to work out the next day instead of going on vacation. Tim Grover, Jordan’s personal trainer is quoted saying before the Pistons, Jordan never weight trained. This testament is the most pivotal moment in Jordan’s career. He decided to prepare a different way for the long term goal of becoming an NBA champ. The entire organization followed Jordan’s lead, and sacrificed their vacation, developed training routines and used the losses as motivation to stay the course. This is a perfect blueprint for anyone looking to demonstrate growth in any area. MJ’s continuous defeat developed a hunger that we all have no choice but to admire.

Defeat will really do something to us; it forces us to become stronger; or become comfortable with weakness. Jordan was not comfortable being weak, and I am sure most competitors feel the same way. He began to develop his physical weakness, weight training because the Pistons were beating him up.  The Pistons enforced specific rules that were created in an attempt to stop MJ from taking them out to the woodshed each game. The “Jordan Rules” motivated MJ to hold himself and his teammates to a higher standard of excellence. I love this quote and if you’re a good basketball coach reading this you will teach your players this concept. Jordan said that he “wanted to be the one to administer pain”. For all the believers reading along, imagine sticking it to Satan as opposed to him sticking it to you. 

While the mystique of Michael Jordan and the Bulls continues to provide heartwarming feelings of joy and exhilaration, I want to encourage you all to apply this practical demonstration of growth and development in your life. When faced with defeat in conditional areas; whether it is your physical appearance, health condition, financial condition, emotional condition, spiritual condition; it may be beneficial to use these very practical steps to overcome your discomfort with any circumstance. 

From a spiritual perspective, there is an opportunity to grow in what may seem like distress, despair, or [for the sake of this blog] The Smoke, y’all. Being Christian does not mean adversity is not applicable to us. So we must have a contingency plan in place to outlast the smoke, with an end goal of joining our Heavenly Father, God in His Kingdom. God wants us to find solace in him during the most difficult times of our lives. 

When faced with The Smoke or any adversity, it ultimately results in me turning the cause of my anxiety over to God in prayer. I rely on my personal relationship with God to find peace in the midst of the stormiest situations. Whether that’s through prayer, talking with other believers, fasting, or reading my Bible (which I do every day regardless). In the depths of The Smoke, I get charged up when I think about how “He’s done it before” and that helps me to believe “He will do it again”. 

Beloved, we must be sensitive to the lessons that present themselves as a result of our individual adversity. We have to make the choice to find refuge, encouragement, and hopefulness in God’s Almighty Power; His promises; and His power being exemplified throughout our circumstance. Do not be distracted by casualties or feelings that result from adverse conditions and challenging situations. Keep in mind muscles must become sore in order to confirm their growth.

Our spiritual muscle and wisdom is constantly being developed and strengthened through the lessons we learn throughout real life experience. Our prayer should be that the value of lessons revealed during challenging experiences, outweigh the detriment of the losses along the way. So be encouraged as God prunes us.

Be encouraged as He prepares us to stand with confidence in Him, with the Holy Spirit by our side, as we face future challenges. We are the body of Christ. We are His workmanship. And remember His word says 1. He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deut 31:6)  2. He will never put more on us than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). 3. He has a plan to prosper us and not harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). 

Despite the circumstance or situation we are more than prepared to face for whatever challenge comes our way. Pray that God strengthens you in the midst of any uncertainty, doubt, or fear associated with overcoming adversity in your life. I pray that He may cause you to be alert and focused on what your workout plan looks for building spiritual muscle in those weak areas.

Facing the Smoke head on is an opportunity to partner with God as we navigate through the challenges of adverse situations. This is so encouraging to me, y’all! I hope this post provides you with a sense of hope, motivation and encouragement.

Be Blessed, Marco

2 comments

  1. Yesssssiirrrr!! I WANT TO BE THE ONE TO ADMINISTER THE PAIN.

    Lord, I pray I can continue to devote myself to growing spiritually. I want to grow closer to You. This is my prayer Lord. Amen.

    Awesome post!! Such a motivational word.

  2. This was great!! And definitely encouraging as the scriptures you gave are great reminders to keep pushing towards the end goal!

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