Archive for the ‘1 Corinthians’ Category

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“LOSE IT” – Feb. 22

February 22, 2016

“Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  1 Corinthians 9:25

“How could I have let this happen?”

This was my thought as I stepped off of the scales about a month ago.  In April of 2015, I wrote FAT DENIED  which chronicled my struggle with weight.  After writing that post, I continued to lose weight and got down to 182 lb.lose-weight-now-300x200

I felt great. 

My Strava account  testifies to the fact that I broke more PRs (personal records) from April through September, 2015 than at any other time.  I had demonstrated that the unnecessary layer of fat around my torso was the great hindrance to my athletic performance.  I was committed to keeping the weight off.

And then, the off-season happened;
My calendar cleared of all races;
Daylight savings robbed me of training after work;
And I ate my way through the holidays.

I was staring in disgust at a number on my scale that I had allowed to happen in just 4 months.  I had never wanted to see 190 lbs. again and here I was staring at 200 lbs.

“How could I have let this happen?”

Actually, I know exactly how it happened.  It is not a mystery.

I lacked self-control.

I ate more food than my activity level could burn off.  A snack here and there.  I ate a little extra of this and that.  I had maybe seconds and sometimes thirds, which was all  it took to make the numbers on the scale start to climb.   I am frustrated and disappointed with myself because this is completely on me.

I lacked self-control.

So, I have started again.  I have begun to lose that same 20 lbs. but I am not following a diet.  I am not subscribing to some method.  My weight loss strategy is simply self-control.  I have already learned what I should be eating.  I know how to exercise.

My issue is self-control.

Therefore, I am utilizing a self-control tool.  I am using the LOSE IT! app to help me maintain self-control.  I am not dieting.  I am seeking to live a balanced life.   After I reach my weight goal, I want my calories in to be roughly equal to my calories out.  I want to lose weight at this time.  So, I want my calories in to be less than my calories out.  I need data to help my self-control.

The LOSE IT app allows me to set a weight goal level and the date that I want to achieve it.  Based on those parameters, I have a daily calorie account.  I log what I eat and the app tallies it up.  I log my exercise and the app subtracts the calories burned from my total.  The goal is to keep each day below my daily calorie total.

I have found it to be an incredibly helpful self-control tool.

Several times I have climbed on by bicycle trainer, when I didn’t feel like it, simply to burn some calories because I had eaten too much.
I have foregone seconds and certainly thirds because I know how many calories that I have left for the day.
I am better at keeping my hand out of the nut jar because I know how many calories are in a handful.

I realize that some will think that I am being legalistic about my use of the LOSE IT app.  However, they don’t value my goals.  What they term legalistic, I define as self-control.  I wish that I did not need to use the LOSE IT app.  I know a buffet is not beneficial for me.  I wish that I could be free to eat whatever I wanted without any detrimental effects to my goals.   I can’t.

I lack self-control.

I could not help but think of the spiritual application of my recent weight gain experience.  Paul encourages us to live a life of self-control.

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.  1 Corinthians 9:27

What does a self-control life look like to you? 
I think many may be too quick to confuse self-control with legalism.

The problem with legalism is that it is self-control with the wrong goal.  Legalism seeks righteousness through works but lack love for God.  Self-control seeks to love God by eliminating the stumbling blocks to our weaknesses.  I know that all things are free to me but all things are not beneficial.

I have to live in the world but I don’t want to be of the world.  Therefore, I can only consume a certain amount of the world; I have to exercise the spiritual disciplines to stay strong.   This is how I maintain a balanced spiritual life.

Some may criticize me for being legalistic.
Others may call me licentious.

However, I know what my spiritual goals are.  I know the race that I am in.  I am not running aimlessly.  I am not boxing as one beating the air.  I have learned the areas in which I have freedom and those in which I need self-control.  I know how to practice the spiritual disciplines.OpenBible

Based on those parameters, I strive to live as one who is running to obtain the prize.

How about you?

Do you have a spiritual goal?
Do you know your weaknesses?
Do you practice any spiritual disciplines?

Are you running to obtain the prize?

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for giving me a hope that surpasses this world.  Thank you for completing the work  you have started in me.  Thank you for giving me weakness.  Thank you for teaching me discipline.  Father, help me to live a balanced life that strives to glorify you.   Help me to be in the world but not of it.  Enable me to run as one running to obtain the prize.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Please feel free to follow me on Strava or Lose It!

Francis Chan

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TALENTLESS GLORY – Sept 10

September 10, 2014

“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19b-20

 The other morning, I once again watched this video as I ate my breakfast.

The emotions elicited from Carrie Underwood’s exaltation of our God’s greatness caused me to linger upon God’s glory. I am always encouraged to see God-given talent directed back toward our Creator.

Musicians using their talents to lead me in worship of God;
Teachers whose charisma encourages me to follow Jesus;
The intellect of pastors drawing me deeper into the mysteries of the divine;
Authors explaining difficult truths that ease my understanding;
Poets whose words plow fresh soil in my soul;
Artists who create works that raise my eyes beyond this world.

I can easily acknowledge and join in the praise that the talented present to the Lord through the works of their bodies.

I am equally tempted, in darker moments, to think that the glory potential of my body is significantly lower than that of the talented. I know that the price paid for my salvation is the same as that paid for Carrie Underwood or C.S. Lewis or Spurgeon or Milton or any number of talented people who love or have love our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, it seems that the Lord might have gotten a poor bargain when he saved me. When I consider what I have to offer God, I am inclined to place myself on the clearance rack.

I don’t want to diminish my talents, but I also recognize that they are not “world class”.  However, there are billions of people just like me.

We have never been at the top of the class.
We have never been invited to an audition.
We have never been courted for the corner office.
We have never won a race.
We have never had a best-seller.
We have never even been close to a platform.

As a result, the glory that God receives from my body and those like me comes quietly, without ovation, from a heart that fumbles with rudimentary talents in simple love for our Savior.

I wonder if this glory from the simple is not the glory highly esteemed by our Lord.

Consider the fact that He has created more “unexceptional” people than the world class variant.  There is rarely a question of motivation for the under-gifted. The gifted will always have to struggle against their love for the praise of men.

I have never made melody with my voice in praise to our Lord with the secret hope of a compliment. I am not musical. Therefore, I have only one motivation when I worship our Lord through singing – love. I sing praises to the glory of God because I love him. I believe that the glory from my body, at that moment, is purest and most undefiled by my love of self, primarily because I lack talent.

I believe God relishes that glory – pure glory coming from a heart that is loving Him first and foremost.

However, I have preached with a secret hope of being complimented. I have written with a desire to be liked. I have used my talents in assorted ministries for God’s glory and gotten a little boost in my self-love. This self-love complicates the purity of my worship. It contaminates the motivation of my praise. As a result, the glory to God from those who were blessed by the use of my talents was probably purer than the direct glory from my conflicted motives.

Those with unexceptional talents should be encouraged when we consider the primary purpose of man – to glorify God and enjoy him forever. God has created us perfectly. He has given everyone some gifts, but He has not given those gifts equally. He was not random. He was not arbitrary.

Consider for a moment that God has not given you talent so that you can better serve your God-given purpose, which is to glorify Him with your untalented body.

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)

Let us use our under-talented bodies to glorify God; motivated by a love for Him from a pure heart, good conscience and a sincere faith. We are the one who can do that the best – we were created for it.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the gifts that you have given me. Help me to use them to glorify you. Forgive me for using the talents that you have given me to seek the praise of men. Teach me how to use the talents that I have with a pure heart, good conscience and a sincere faith. Lord, thank you for the gifts that I don’t have. Thank you for depriving me of world class talent. Thank you for obscurity. Thank you for anonymity. Thank you for creating me just as I am so that I can better fulfill my purpose with all that I am, in purity and sincerity.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

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MASTER OF OFFENSE – July 25

July 25, 2014

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all thing, endures all things. Love never ends…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

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“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you have emotional expectations, I can tell you I have limited means to fulfill them. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a life time. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you walk away, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will be your friend, I will be your confidant, and I will offend you.”

I have a particular set of skills; skills meriting a warning as ominous as that given in the movie Taken.

All who share my particular skill set understand the latent hazard that we represent.   We are a very dangerous subset of the population, easily blending into the masses.

However, our skills are often exposed despite our best attempts to befriend. The practitioners of the art of offense tend to be naturally gifted. We rarely have to think about our art.

We have an ingenious ability to select the most inappropriate combination of words.

 Our simple mis-timed questions can re-infuse the socially diffused.

We can build the harshest of corners by a mere sequence of honest observations.

We can block  social cues in a focused demonstration of our skills.

And that is without even trying.

The reality is that all humans are skilled in the art of offense but there are a special few who are masters.  The masters of offense have a unique ability to separate thought and love. Love should pilot thought. However, the truly offensive allow their thoughts to range far from the constraints of love.

Thought can be freed to search the bounds of circumspect.
It can peer past emotions and formalities for dispassionate assessment.
Thought can fly free beyond reality into blissful imagination.
It can dive deep into the depths of hidden meanings and intents.

Yet, thought unguided by love is destined to the shackle of disdain; the prison of all offensive masters.
Love is what frees thought to become all that it was intended.

Love allows thought to persuade.
Love soothes accurate assessment.
Love returns fragrance after thought’s searing.
Love hinders speculation.
Love binds lips opened by thought.

imagesCAENI4DCDespite my skills, I don’t want to be a hazard to others. I don’t want unfettered thoughts, freed to practice the skillful art of offense. I have tasted too often the bitter loss wrought by those skills. Since I can be naturally offensive, my focus must be on yielding to the mastery of love. My thoughts must cling to the course set by love. Love will faithfully guide thought to kind and patient response.  Love pulls thought from envy or boasting and away from arrogance.  Love enables thought to accept someone elses way and soothes thought’s resent and irritation.

Thought produces wonder actions.  Thought gives life to all of our gifts but it is love that produces the fruits of the Spirit in thought because love always returns to the Father – the source of love. Love delivers our thoughts to the Father; thoughts set upon the Father produce more love for the Father and our neighbor.

God is glorified only when Love and Thought are connected.

Thought and love cannot be separated for the Christian – it is our DNA.

Therefore, no Christian is obligated to live a life dominated by their offensive skills. Our warnings can fall away as our thoughts yield to His love because we are new creatures, created with a new DNA of love and thought.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for making me a new creation.  Thank you for bonding my thoughts to your love.  Forgive me for breaking those bonds and allowing my thoughts to wander unrestrained.  Forgive me for not loving my neighbor as you do. I don’t want my thoughts to wander from you.  Tune my thoughts to sing your praise.  Let thy love, like a fetter bind my wandering thoughts to thee.(Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing)  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

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EASTER CHANGES EVERYTHING – April 20

April 20, 2014

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:17-18

 Easter changes everything.

 If Christ had not been raised then…

… Church wastes a Sunday.
… prayer is merely meditation.
… the Bible is a best-selling self-help book.
cross… charity is a utopian ideal.
… faith is a crutch.
… self-denial is a waste of effort.
… happiness is fleeting.
… everlasting joy is a myth.
… peace is impossible.
… God is unknown.
… sin remains.
… God does not love us.
… suffering is without meaning.
… this is as good as it gets.
…our future is a grave.
… we are fools.

Easter changes everything.

Because Christ has risen, we know …

… He is the messiah.
… the prophesies have been fulfilled.
… the penalty of sin has been paid.
… the curse of sin is removed.
… death has been defeated.
… the kingdom of God will be established.
… all things are possible.
… eternal life awaits beyond the grave.
… glory will be revealed to us.
… suffering has purpose.
… we are loved by God.
… our faith is not in vain.
… we are not fools.
… we are children of God.
… we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

empty-tombEaster changes everything.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

(1 Corinthians 15:58)

PRAYER: Father, thank you for Easter.  Thank you for raising your Son from the grave.  Thank you for keeping all of your promises.  Thank you for redeeming me.  Thank you for giving hope and eternal life.  I praise your name on this glorious day for what you have done.    I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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REVELATIONS FROM A BAD RACE – April 1

April 1, 2014

““Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

In my last post (Race Day), I was in the midst of pre-race excitement and the unknown of never having competed in a cycling event.  I am now in the haze of reflection on a weekend of bicycle racing.

 

ToO Road Race 2014

I now know that my day-dream of standing on a podium really was a silly fantasy.
I also know the dreaded realization of being crushed by  “real” cyclists.

Time Trial:

I knew I was in trouble as I watched the other riders warm-up. I was impressed by the degree of aero-equipment that whizzed past me; TT bikes, aero-helmets, aero-wheels, and skin-suits of every variety and shape.  The vast majority of my competitors wore the gear of a cycling team and looked very fit.  I did not see any newbies, like myself.

The actual race confirmed my fears. They release competitors individually, in one minute increments. I was passed by three racers. In fact, I was passed within the first two miles by the guy who started immediately behind me, after I had been averaging over 23 mph.  I finished 10th…out of ten, in my age group, 76th out of 87 overall. However, I had personal bests on both climbs and I maintained my heart rate between 155-165 bpm. It was probably the best I could do.

I am satisfied with the race since my finish was strong (for me).

Criterium:

The crit course is located in the downtown section of a local town, in the form of a rectangle with two block straight-aways and 90 degree corners. It is flat and fast. From the whistle, we were immediately up to 25 mph. I managed through the first and second corners.  On the third corner, I was set up on the outside of the turn. I could not see very far ahead due to the group so I set my line base on the rider inside of me. We all leaned into the turn but I quickly released that I was being pinched into the curb as we were coming through the turn. I grabbed my brake a little too hard and felt my back tire slip toward the curb at which point I felt this sense of weightlessness. The next thing I knew I was standing in a grassy area adjacent to the course, inspecting my bike.

I had crashed in my first lap. Fortunately, I landed on the only grass aligning the whole course.  A rider with better bike handling skills and experience probably would never have crashed. I am a little disappointed that I did not get back on my bike and finish the crit – I probably could have. The crash rattled and scared me.

I did not finish well. In fact, I did not finish.

Road Race:

I didn’t want to do the road race after my experience with stages 1 and 2. I had been humbled and outclassed. I had done the pre-race ride and knew what a day on the road race course would be like.(Strava-Like Community)   A few friends encouraged me to continue and consider the road race as an opportunity to train and gain experience. I had no answer to their encouragement so I sucked it up and went for it.

To my surprise, I hung with the group until the climb at the end of the first lap when I was dropped and the group was gone. I rode in solitude for the next two laps, as I had expected, finishing 12th …out of twelve, in my age group, 49th out of 58 overall. I am happy that I persevered through the race even though my time was not competitive.

Measure the Heart
I was thinking about Paul’s encouragement to compete in a way to obtain the prize.  Thankfully, God does not judge our faith by outward appearance. He knows our heart. He knows the blessings and abilities that He has granted each one of us. He does not grant the prize based upon the external accolades from this race we call life.

God judges us based upon our heart.

I may have exhibited more heart and determination than my weekend rankings may have exhibited. I have not been blessed with much of the youth, experience, strength and athleticism on display by those real cyclists. I don’t have the luxury of time to put into dedicated cycling training necessary to achieve the sort of cycling fitness and power that I saw this weekend. But given where I am, I might not be in last place if heart were a category.

God judges us based upon our heart and what our love for Him motivates us to do with all the blessings and abilities He has given us. That is why we should not judge other people by their actions. We never know how competitive their heart really is. They might actually be running a better race of faith than I am without many of the advantages I have been given.

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Race Well
We are all in a race. The goal of this race is to persevere and finish strong in our faith. We should all be striving to hear the words, “well done, good and faithful servant”.

We may feel outclassed by other people’s faith and dedication.
We may have crashed our faith due to inexperience and poor decisions.
We may be rattled and afraid of where following Christ might take us.
Bad experiences may have us at the edge of wanting to give up.
We might feel discouraged as we slog along in solitude.

Remember, God does not judge the external results of your faith. He judges your heart. He knows the gifts He has given you. He knows the disadvantages you are overcoming. He knows the faith He has given you. He has you exactly where He wants you. He is providing you with experience and training so that you will persevere to the finish line.

So, don’t give up; look to other real faith racers as examples of what is possible. Take heart in knowing that God has given them the strength to follow Him as they do. He can do the same for you. Most likely, He is already doing it as long as you continue to show some heart – a heart dedicated to loving God more than anything.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the opportunity to race this weekend. Thank you for showing me how important heart is.  Thank you for giving me grass to crash into.  Thank you for the faith that you have given me.  Thank you for the experience and training that you are putting me through.  Lord, examine my heart.   Give me examples to follow and be encouraged by.  Help me to suck it up and continue when I feel like giving up.  Remove all fear of following you with a wholly dedicated heart.  Help me to keep the prize of living well for your glory in sight. I want to embrace the hope of obtaining the prize. Grant me a spirit to race my life well. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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RACE DAY – Mar. 29

March 29, 2014

““Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

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It is race day.

I love race day, but I sort of hate it at the same time. My sleep was restless and I awoke early with a stomach filled with a cocktail of excitement and anxiety that coffee did not settle. I am competing in my first cycling race. I have competed in triathlons before but this is my first race just on the bike and it is a USA Cycling sanctioned stage race on top of that.

A stage race is actually three races. Today, we will compete in a time trial and a criterium. Then tomorrow, we will finish up the stages with a road race.  I have never done any of them, so this will be a new experience.

The Tour of Gippsland – a stage race in Austra...

I don’t know why I get all amped up for race day. My brain tells me that it doesn’t really matter. I am a category 5 rider. That is the lowest of categories reserved for those who have never raced before. I am racing in the 45+ Master’s age group and I am in the “B” group on top of that; the “A” group is better. In the whole scope of the world, this race does not matter at all – just because it does not matter.

However, I am still excited for it. I want to do well. I want to be competitive. I don’t want to stink.

A strange thing happens when something you have done a hundred times becomes a race. Maybe, the fact that a race counts, changes things regardless of whether it matters or not.

It is expected to casually pedal along on an leisure ride … it is not a race.
It is understandable not to empty the tank in training … it is not a race.
It is easy to be content with breaking personal records … it is not a race.

That all changes when it becomes a race.

I have no idea how I am going to fair over the next two days. I have silly day-dreams of standing on the podium. I fight the dread of my best being crushed by  “real” cyclists.  My brain tells me that I will probably finish where I normally do, right in the meat of average, but I will never know until I race.

Racing forces the competitors to face the choice.
Am I going to go after the silly day-dream and compete
or
am I going to succumb to the dread and never try?

The Amgen Tour of California pro cycling race ...

I love to race great because it makes things count. There is a marker that is planted at the completion of a race. It still may not matter, but it counts.

Paul encouraged the Corinthians to treat life like a race. He encouraged them to put aside any dread of failure and go after the hope of standing on the podium and receiving the prize. It is so easy to live our lives like we are on a leisurely ride, just training, or in the solitude of personal achievement.

We are to live life like a race.

That means awaking every morning with a mixture of excitement and anxiety because the day before us counts. Only, our days count and matter.

How we respond to our spouse counts…because it is a race.
How we interact with our kids counts … because it is a race.
How we do business counts … because it is a race.
How we spend our time and money counts … because it is a race.
How we pray counts … because it is a race.
How we reflect the fruits of the Spirit counts … because it is a race.
How we glorify God counts … because it is a race.

We should all be striving for the prize of hearing our Father in heaven saying “well done, good and faithful servant”.  That prize comes by living life like the race that it is.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the ability to race.  Be with me today, keep me safe and help me to do my best. More importantly, grant me the excitement that I feel today about racing to me for every day.  Lord, I want to live like my life counts.  I want to embrace the hope of obtaining the prize.  Grant me a spirit to race my life well.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

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“2014 Resolutions” – Dec 29

December 29, 2013

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.  Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.”  1 Corinthians 13:13-14:1

A year is an effective measurement of time.  It is long enough to accomplish difficult tasks and make marked improvements.  Yet, it is short enough that you can actually remember its beginning.  This makes a year the perfect period of time for resolution making.

Goal setting has become a necessity for me.  I am not a free-spirit.  I can’t afford to be a free-spirit.  I am not naturally talented; I have never been the bright student; nor have people whispered of my gifts while watching me.  Very few things, other than lethargy, have ever come easy for me.

I am a grinder.  I have been blessed with some tenacity.  I have learned that I can accomplish most goals once I incorporate that objective into my routine.  However, no goal will ever be accomplished if you don’t have a reasonable and rational strategy to achieve it.  I have found that if you have enough time, a goal is achievable, and you have a good strategy, then you can usually accomplish it if you are willing to grind away.  This video sums up my approach to the difficult things I hope to accomplish.

Welcome to the Grind

Here are my goals and strategies for 2014:

 BOOKS
(I did not read the books that I had hoped to read this last year.  There are few things more edifying to me than reading so I want to be intentional about making time to read.)

Bible

Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan
Extravagant Grace – Barbara Duguid
Religious Affections – Jonathan Edwards
Think – John Piper
Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis
Hole in our Holiness – Kevin DeYoung
The Cross of Christ – John Stott
Business for the Glory of God – Wayne Grudem
Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 1 – John Calvin
No Argument for God – John Wilkinson
(My goal is to read the works of one dead author for every live one.)

The Greater Journey – David McCullough
Flags of Our Fathers – James Bradley
Jean Jacques Rousseau – Leo Damrosch

Robert Frost – Selected Poems

The Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper
The Nutmeg of Consolation – Patrick O’Brian
Renegade – Ted Dekker
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

Strategy:
Read my Bible every day – stay on my reading plan; all other reading will be suspended until I am caught up.
Make book time greater than TV time.
Read some portion of a book daily.
Read a poem every other day.

MEMORIZATION
(I wanted to memorize Romans 8 last year; I blogged about in “Will You Train with Me”.   I struggled when I got up to 23 verses and then gave up.  So, I want to give it another run this year.)

Goal – Memorize all of Romans 8

Memorization Strategy:
Recite the passage on the way to work.
Recite the passage on the way home from work.
Use ScriptureTyper.  (Kindly recommended by Shawn Martin at Shawn’s Journal )

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE
(I feel like the most lacking area of my spiritual life is prayer.  Therefore, I want to take a year and focus on communing with God.  I want prayer to constant and as natural as breathing.)

Goal – Be a man of prayer.

Spiritual Discipline Strategy:
Set aside time every day for a minimum of 15 minutes in prayer.
Have my prayer journal by my bedside.
Ask for prayer requests from my family.
Intentionally slow my decision making to allow for prayer.

WRITING
(Writing has become a blessing beyond my expectation.  I am humbled that after a door of ministry as a pastor was closed that an avenue in blogging would open.  I am so very thankful to all who have shown the kindness to read my writing.)

Blog
Write 325 blog posts (currently at 420 posts);
Increase to 3,000 followers (currently at 2,127)

Book
I would like to write a book… but not ready to make that a goal.  I keep it as a dream for now.

Writing Strategy:
Write concisely; keep blog posts between 800-900.
Write a devotional blog every two days.
Respond within three days to comments.
Read WordPress blogs daily.
Follow the advice of C.S. Lewis:  “In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.””  C.S. Lewis’ Letters to Children

WEIGHT
(I really don’t want to pack 14 extra pounds around the Boise Ironman course or up the second summit of the 4 Summit Challenge.)

Goal – 186 lbs by June; currently 200 lbs

Weight Strategy:
Ordered P90X3
Continue triathlon training
Eat less than 2,000 calories a day; loaded app to track food consumption.

 ATHLETIC

Tour of Ontario Cycling – March
2014 Time Trial Goal – Age group top 10
2014 Road Race Goal – Age group top 20

Camel’s Back Duathlon (Long Course: 5K- 30K-5K) – May
2014 Goal – 1 hours 50 minutes; Age group top 3

Ironman 70.3 Boise – June 7
2014 Goal:  5 hours 30 minutes; Age group top 20

Spudman Triathlon Boise (Olympic) – July
2013 Finish – 2 hours 51 minutes 37 seconds
2014 Goal – 2 hours 45 minutes; Age group top 3

4 Summit Challenge – July 26
2014 Goal – 6 mph up second summit

Emmett’s Most Excellent Triathlon (Olympic)– August 9
2013 Finish – 2 hours 42 minutes 10 seconds
2014 Goal – 2 hours 35 minutes; Age group podium

Pedal for Patients (Century Ride) – August 23
2014 Goal – 20 mph average

Ontario Aquatic Triathlon (Sprint) – September
2013 Finish – 1 hour 7 minutes 3 seconds
2014 Goal – 59 minutes 59 seconds

Run for the Hills Half Marathon – October
Goal – 1 hour 58 minutes; Age group top 15

Athletic Strategy:
Follow training plan at 18 Week Half Ironman
Ride once a week with local cycling club.
Run once a week with Meet Me on Monday club.

The above list is what I came up with for 2014 and then I read Jon Bloom’s excellent blog on Desiring God entitled Your Most Courageous Resolution for 2014 .  I felt his challenge to “make 2014 a year where we pursue love with more intentionality than we ever have before”.  I looked at the above list of goals and strategies and realized that it was lacking a key category.

I have goals and strategies that I believe with help me pursue a love of God with intentionality.  However, I did not have goals or strategies to help me pursue a love of my neighbor.  I know how important loving my neighbor is.  Jon Bloom helped me to remember that I need to be intentional about the second greatest commandment.

I considered many possible goals to help me pursue a love for my neighbor.  In all honesty, I do not want to do any of them.  Most of the goals that come to mind also turn my stomach.  The above list of goals and strategies are all things I want to do.  In fact, I have already started in on all of them because I find enjoyment in every category.  Many of the goals in the “love your neighbor” category, represent sheer obligation.

I found myself questioning my obedience and asking God to change my personality.  I then remembered something that I had written… it is always odd when a past post  preaches to the present you.  I was reminded that I am who God created.  Allow me to introduce myself once again, “Hello my name is JD and I’m an introvert.”

God loves a cheerful giver.  That means that we need to be obedient to God’s commandments with a joyful heart and not out of sheer obligation.  I can grind out in obedience the actions of love for my neighbor but that will not be a pleasant smelling offering – to my neighbor or God.

God could change me into an extrovert but until then I am going to follow a reasonable and rational strategy to pursue a love for my neighbor that glorifies God.

LOVE MY NEIGHBOR

Goal – That those who are in my life will experience the love of God.

Love Strategy:
Write; share with others what God has shown me in His word.
Encourage; write at least one note of encouragement per week.
Start a home Bible Study in January – actually invite people to it.

I conclude this list with advice from Julie Gillies in her blog How to Pray When You’re Setting Goals.  (Thanks to Julie Garro for posting the link on her Follow the Light blog)

“…goals that aren’t infused with and a result of prayer can lead to unnecessary frustration and disappointment…
My goals must = God’s goals.”

PRAYER: O Lord, not my will but your will be done.  Father, examine and transform my thoughts so that they align with your thoughts, make my desires to be your desires and cause my goals to come from a heart eager to do your will.  Make the goals that are pleasing to you succeed and remove that which does not glorify your name.  Give me wisdom to recognize the plans that I need to relinquish and those I need to change.  I pray for this coming year that your name will be hallowed; that your kingdom will come and your will be done; I pray that you will provide for all my needs.  Father, help me to forgive and keep me from temptation.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

NOTE:  Sorry for the length of this post. I realize that I am not off to a good start with my strategy of shorter posts:)

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