Archive for the ‘Romans’ Category

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“DON’T JUDGE ME – I’M A FAN” – Jan. 3

January 3, 2016

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.  Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory!”  Psalm 72:18-19

I have struggled for motivation to climb upon my bicycle while it is clamped into the trainer.   However, I have to do something because the digits on my scale are continuing to increase inversely to the outdoors temperatures.  I’ve sought may aids to curb the monotony of a cycling trainer; music, cycling training videos, Tour de France videos, sermons, audiobooks, and even stand-up comics.  None has been able to keep me contentedly pedaling beyond 30 minutes.

However, I finally found my tonic for trainer tedium – Dark Matter.

Dark_Matter_Intertitle

My tonic is not the invisible matter constituting the majority of the universe.  Mine comes from the Syfy channel.  I got hooked on this story of a spaceship crew who awakens from stasis with no memory of who they are, what they have done, or why they are on board a mercenary spaceship.

I love a good story and if it is set in space, then it’s even better.

I saved watching Dark Matter as the carrot before my motionless bike.  I easily pedaled through each episode as subsequent adventures revealed mysteries of forgotten pasts.  I was actually starting to look forward to my time on that accursed contraption when it all came to an end.

The final episode of Season 1 successfully left me spinning on the edge of my saddle, wanting to know what will happen next.  I went to click on Season 2, to spin through another episode, but made a stark discovery.

There is no Season 2.

I was done.  I climbed off my bike and felt that familiar disdain for my next date with the trainer.  I searched the internet to discover whether there was another season with a growing concern.  I learned more about Dark Matter than I had intended.  I learned about the actors and the production.  I read reviews, both positive and negative.  I was delighted to find that there will be another season but annoyed to know that it is only in production.

I even discovered the WordPress blog of Joseph Mallozzi – Josephmallozzi’s Weblog.  He is the co-writer and creator of Dark Matter.  He has a lot of behind the scene photos of the current filming of Dark Matter on his blog.  I flipped through each post in my developing sense of fandom.

I learned that Dark Matter was originally a comic book that Joseph Mallozzi co-wrote.  So, I did what any newly minted fan would do.  I got on Amazon to see if I could buy one.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit that the compilation book of all four comics should arrive in two days.  I haven’t bought myself a comic book in three decades.

Don’t judge me, I’m a fan.

I find it interesting that I wasn’t really a fan of Dark Matter while Netflix held a trove of unwatched episodes.

It wasn’t until the streaming dried up that I even thought about the writer.
It wasn’t until the entertainment stopped that I began searching.
It wasn’t until I was forced to wait that I became a fan.

My reaction to Dark Matter reminded me of this quote from A.W. Pink.

Pink

I can testify to these dry seasons of the soul.

Most Christians will experience these periods of drought
if they follow Christ any length of time.

It is part of sanctification.

Have you ever wondered why we experience these periods where the river of God’s presence feels like it has dried up?

Some may say that these seasons are periods of preparation or testing or due to sin.  I agree in part.

However, I wonder if dry periods are simply a process to make us into fans.

When I enter a dry period, I tend to think more about God.  I confess that my thoughts often sound like complaints, “why is God doing this to me”, but my eyes definitely get focused back on Him.

When I feel spiritually lethargic, I tend to search more earnestly in His word.  I start digging into the mysteries of God and realize that I am usually not even asking the right questions.

When I am waiting on God, I inevitably begin to ask myself, who I am waiting for, which brings me back to the Gospel, the wonderful treasure of the good news of Jesus Christ and I become more of a fan.

A dry period  will inevitably
bring me to the glory of God.

It will make me a fan.

When I am a fully glorifying fan:

I am prepared to follow Christ in whatever He has called me to do.

I am ready to persevere through the suffering and trials that are before me.

I am willing to turn my back on the temptations of this world for the surpassing worth of my loving Savior.

The lukewarm Christian is a lukewarm fan.

Christians should be more enthusiastic than any of the fans in a sports stadium.

Our demeanor should clothe us as followers of Christ more than any avid comic con attendees.

Our homes should proudly display our fandom of the One.

We were created to be fans; we were created to worship.
A true fan should be easy to spot.

God wants us to be easy to spot.
God wants us to be true fans.
He is willing to take us through those dry periods to teach us that our fandom rests only in Him.

PRAYER: Lord, I pray that you will make me into a fan.  Help me to want to join my voice with that of the Psalmist and declare your wondrous deeds in unabashed fandom.  Help me to accept the dry seasons.  Help to see that you are taking me to greater happiness.  Father, do your work in me even when I am not fully cooperating.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

piper

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“FALLING INTO OPTIMAL” – Dec. 15

December 15, 2015

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”  Romans 5:3-5

I finally resolved to get on the trainer and spin.

For thirty minutes, I sat in the comfort of my couch, glancing into the adjoining room at the taunting image of my bike on the trainer.  The passage of time persuaded me that if a workout was going to happen, I had to get started.  So, I grumbled my way upstairs to change into some workout clothes thinking, “I just need to get this over with”.

Work clothes were quickly exchanged for cycling garb, a glass filled with water, and my new Surface Pro tablet tucked under my arm (I have taken to watching Netflix whileI spin; it helps to pass the time).  I began my descent into my personnel pain cave, quickly shuffling down the stairs with my stocking feet.

About two-thirds down the carpeted stairs, my feet suddenly slipped from one stair run, skipped off the next, and in an instant my balance was emptied while my hands remained full.  That would not last long.  Water splashed in my face as my tablet was flung down the remaining steps.  I crashed down on the steps, feet and arms in the air, without any time breaking my fall.  A stair rung bearing deeply into my ribs under the brunt of my falling mass.

I must have rocked the foundation of the house because my wife and kids were at the bottom of the stairs by the time I slid to the landing, wondering what had happened.

I would not be going for a spin on that night.

My fall happened nine days ago.  The carpet burns have healed nicely.  However, my ribs are another matter.  I had hoped that they were just bruised but as the days have passed, I have begun to accept that there might be more damage.  A couple ribs may have been broken; not really broken but just cracked a little bit; probably just bruised deeply.

There are some things that no cyclist can resist, particularly those who live in areas that have real winters – a moderate day in December.  We had just such a day, six days after my fall.  It was perfect weather, no falling moisture, temperatures around forty degrees, winds moderate.  Bruised ribs or not, I could not let this day slip by.

I left work early and soon had my tri-bike out on the rural roads near my home.  I quickly discovered that my ribs were happy only in one position.  Everything was pleasant, as long as I stayed down on my aero-bars.  It was not nearly as pleasant entering and exiting the aero-position.  As a result, I had one of my best rides since I stayed in the most aero-dynamic position for duration of the ride.

Sometimes not being able to assume our preferred position
forces us in the optimal position.

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(That is me on a tri-bike, wet roads, taking a selfie with broken ribs.
I didn’t say it was a good idea, just an irresistible one.)

My ribs got me to thinking about suffering.  I know how I fell down my stairs, but don’t know why.  I don’t know why most bad things happen.   However, the Bible consistently teaches that suffering is not necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, we are told that we should rejoice in our suffering.  I am not very good at rejoicing in my suffering.

Yet, I wonder if suffering is similar to my cycling experience.  Suffering forces us out of our preferences.  Suffering forces out of our strengths.  Suffering forces us out of our self-reliance.

Suffering forces us out of our preferred position and into the optimal position.

“Heartache forces us to embrace God out of desperate, urgent need.
God is never closer than when your heart is aching.”
~Joni Eareckson Tada

Anyone who has suffered, knows that it will force you down on your knees in reliance upon God and keep you there.  What could be more optimal than that?

That optimal position will produce endurance, character, and hope.  Those are all exceptional results – we just have to stay down to receive them.

“Suffering provides the gym equipment on which my faith can be exercised.”
~Joni Eareckson Tada

PRAYER: Lord, I pray that you will heal my ribs quickly.  Help me to understand suffering.  Help me to accept suffering in my own life and the lives of others.  Father, do your work in us.  Don’t leave us as we are.  Create in us the hope that will not disappoint by the means that you choose.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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VETERAN PEACEMAKERS- Nov 11 (Reblog)

November 11, 2015

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:10

English: Veterans Day poster issued by the U.S...

Today is the day we honor our veterans in the United States. Appropriately, ceremonies with be held in appreciation of the sacrifice that so many have given in the service of our country. These ceremonies will inherently have a melancholy mood at least for me.

As I have written before (Imagine a World without Veterans), veterans are the product of war and threats of war. I recently ran across a quote by Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones in which he asked a series of pertinent questions.

Why are there wars in the world?
Why is there this constant international tension?
What is the matter with the world?
Why war and all the unhappiness and turmoil and discord amongst men?
According to this Beatitude (Matthew 5:10),
there is only one answer to these questions-sin.

Nothing else; just sin.”
~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

Sin is the reason there are wars and rumors of war. Sin is the reason that we needed the service of our veterans. Sin is the reason we will be creating new veterans long into the future.

Have you ever considered the cost of sin?

Many want to dismiss the costs of sin. They cast sin as a private matter of personal choice. However, consider the quantifiable costs we all pay due to a world enslaved to sin.

The annual budget of the US Department of Defense is $495.6 billion.
The annual budget of the US Department of Veterans Affairs is $163.9 billion.
The United States spends $659.5 billion every year just because of sin.

If there was no sin, we would not need the DOD or VA. We would be freed to spend over a half a trillion dollars every year on other things – science, medicine, technology. How far could a $659.5 billion annual investment progress our society?  I hope that we can agree that the DOD and VA costs are only a fraction of the quantifiable costs that sin imposes upon this world. A more careful accounting will reveal a staggering annual cost that we all pay to counter the effects that proceed from sinful hearts.

It is ‘out of the heart’ that evil thoughts, murders, adultery, fornication, jealousy, envy, malice and all these other things proceed; and while men are like that there will be no peace. What is in, will inevitably come out.
~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

English: AUBURN, Wash. (Nov. 5, 2001) Marine C...

The impact of sin upon our society becomes staggering when we consider the unquantifiable costs of sin.

What have families emotionally paid during deployment separations?
What are the costs to relationships impacted by PTSD?

What of the costs beyond wars and rumors of war?

What is the payment for drug addiction?
What are the costs wasted into pornography?
What costs have been incurred from anger, gossip, hate…

English: Unknown military cemetary in Poland P...

What about the ultimate wage of sin?

For the wages of sin is death…(Romans 6:23a)
What is the cost of a person’s soul?

While some may argue that Christianity has caused much of the evil in this world, the reality is that our world needs more biblical peacemakers to truly quell the costs of sin upon mankind.

The first thing, therefore, we must say about the peacemaker is that he has an entirely new view of himself, a new view which really amounts to this. He has seen himself and has come to see that in a sense this miserable, wretched self is not worth bothering about at all. It is so wretched; it has not rights or privileges; it does not deserve anything. If you have seen yourself as poor in spirit, if you have mourned because of the blackness of your heart, if you have truly seen yourself and have hungered and thirsted after righteousness, you will not stand any longer on your rights and privileges, you will not be asking, ‘What about me in this?’ You will have forgotten this self…

 Let me sum it all up like this: the benediction pronounced on such people is that they ‘shall be called the children of God’…It means that the peacemaker is a child of God and that he is like his Father. One of the most glorious definitions of the being and character of God in the Bible is contained in the words, ‘the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus.’ (Heb. 13:20)…

 That is the New Testament teaching. You finish with self, and then you begin to follow Jesus Christ. You realize what He did for you in order that you might enjoy that blessed peace of God, and you begin to desire that everybody else should have it. So, forgetting self, humbling self, you follow in His steps’ who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.’ That is it.
~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

English: A folded American flag held by a Unit...

I am grateful for the service of my country’s veterans. They have been a bulwark against the evils of man. They have spared me and my family from some horrible costs of sin. However, I think we do them a disservice if our gratitude does not go beyond an appreciation for a “peaceful and prosperous” life.

Our world needs veteran peacemakers – biblical peacemakers. We will all continue to pay the horrible costs of sin while the world chases humanistic and idealistic solutions to our fundamental problem – the sinful hearts of men. We need to be thankful for the opportunity our war veterans have given us so that we, as children of God,  can do what we have been called to do; be peacemakers.

We have been called to be peacemakers within our own world. We have the only solution to the dreadful cost of sin. May we faithfully serve our calling and become veteran peacemakers. Let us use this opportunities that our veterans have provided to lead as many to the One who can save them from paying the ultimate wage of sin.

…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23b

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the United States of America and the men and women who have served in the military to defend this country.  May you bless their service.  Lord, thank you for keeping the costs of sin bearable.  Thank you for giving time and opportunity for men and women to come to you.  Lord, help me to be a peacemaker; help me to be like You.  May you be glorified in those that you have called to be your children – peacemakers.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

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VETERAN PEACEMAKERS- Nov 11

November 11, 2014

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:10

English: Veterans Day poster issued by the U.S...

Today is the day we honor our veterans in the United States. Appropriately, ceremonies with be held in appreciation of the sacrifice that so many have given in the service of our country. These ceremonies will inherently have a melancholy mood at least for me.

As I have written before (Imagine a World without Veterans), veterans are the product of war and threats of war. I recently ran across a quote by Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones in which he asked a series of pertinent questions.

Why are there wars in the world?
Why is there this constant international tension?
What is the matter with the world?
Why war and all the unhappiness and turmoil and discord amongst men?
According to this Beatitude (Matthew 5:10),
there is only one answer to these questions-sin.

Nothing else; just sin.”
~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

Sin is the reason there are wars and rumors of war. Sin is the reason that we needed the service of our veterans. Sin is the reason we will be creating new veterans long into the future.

Have you ever considered the cost of sin?

Many want to dismiss the costs of sin. They cast sin as a private matter of personal choice. However, consider the quantifiable costs we all pay due to a world enslaved to sin.

The annual budget of the US Department of Defense is $495.6 billion.
The annual budget of the US Department of Veterans Affairs is $163.9 billion.
The United States spends $659.5 billion every year just because of sin.

If there was no sin, we would not need the DOD or VA. We would be freed to spend over a half a trillion dollars every year on other things – science, medicine, technology. How far could a $659.5 billion annual investment progress our society?  I hope that we can agree that the DOD and VA costs are only a fraction of the quantifiable costs that sin imposes upon this world. A more careful accounting will reveal a staggering annual cost that we all pay to counter the effects that proceed from sinful hearts.

It is ‘out of the heart’ that evil thoughts, murders, adultery, fornication, jealousy, envy, malice and all these other things proceed; and while men are like that there will be no peace. What is in, will inevitably come out.
~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

English: AUBURN, Wash. (Nov. 5, 2001) Marine C...

The impact of sin upon our society becomes staggering when we consider the unquantifiable costs of sin.

What have families emotionally paid during deployment separations?
What are the costs to relationships impacted by PTSD?

What of the costs beyond wars and rumors of war?

What is the payment for drug addiction?
What are the costs wasted into pornography?
What costs have been incurred from anger, gossip, hate…

English: Unknown military cemetary in Poland P...

What about the ultimate wage of sin?

For the wages of sin is death…(Romans 6:23a)
What is the cost of a person’s soul?

While some may argue that Christianity has caused much of the evil in this world, the reality is that our world needs more biblical peacemakers to truly quell the costs of sin upon mankind.

The first thing, therefore, we must say about the peacemaker is that he has an entirely new view of himself, a new view which really amounts to this. He has seen himself and has come to see that in a sense this miserable, wretched self is not worth bothering about at all. It is so wretched; it has not rights or privileges; it does not deserve anything. If you have seen yourself as poor in spirit, if you have mourned because of the blackness of your heart, if you have truly seen yourself and have hungered and thirsted after righteousness, you will not stand any longer on your rights and privileges, you will not be asking, ‘What about me in this?’ You will have forgotten this self…

 Let me sum it all up like this: the benediction pronounced on such people is that they ‘shall be called the children of God’…It means that the peacemaker is a child of God and that he is like his Father. One of the most glorious definitions of the being and character of God in the Bible is contained in the words, ‘the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus.’ (Heb. 13:20)…

 That is the New Testament teaching. You finish with self, and then you begin to follow Jesus Christ. You realize what He did for you in order that you might enjoy that blessed peace of God, and you begin to desire that everybody else should have it. So, forgetting self, humbling self, you follow in His steps’ who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.’ That is it.
~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

English: A folded American flag held by a Unit...

I am grateful for the service of my country’s veterans. They have been a bulwark against the evils of man. They have spared me and my family from some horrible costs of sin. However, I think we do them a disservice if our gratitude does not go beyond an appreciation for a “peaceful and prosperous” life.

Our world needs veteran peacemakers – biblical peacemakers. We will all continue to pay the horrible costs of sin while the world chases humanistic and idealistic solutions to our fundamental problem – the sinful hearts of men. We need to be thankful for the opportunity our war veterans have given us so that we, as children of God,  can do what we have been called to do; be peacemakers.

We have been called to be peacemakers within our own world. We have the only solution to the dreadful cost of sin. May we faithfully serve our calling and become veteran peacemakers. Let us use this opportunities that our veterans have provided to lead as many to the One who can save them from paying the ultimate wage of sin.

…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23b

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the United States of America and the men and women who have served in the military to defend this country.  May you bless their service.  Lord, thank you for keeping the costs of sin bearable.  Thank you for giving time and opportunity for men and women to come to you.  Lord, help me to be a peacemaker; help me to be like You.  May you be glorified in those that you have called to be your children – peacemakers.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

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BROKEN, NOT JUST BENT- Nov 10

November 10, 2014

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

The desperate melody of Pink’s song Just Give me a Reason sends my mind into a memory garden; past the memories of acquaintances, friends and family who sing to me the lyrics of this song, “we’re not broken just bent, we can learn to love again; we just need a reason to love again”. I sadly shake my head as their dew clouds my eyes. “Your love is not enough; a reason will never remove what is written in your scars, you’re broken not just bent”, is all I can think.

I feel the pain of a husband whose wife sought the embrace of another. He sings “We are just bent, we are not broken. We just need to learn to love again; we just need a reason to love again”. Oh, the scars!

I imagine the quiet lament of a young mother slipping away into overwhelmed neglect. She sings “we are just bent, we are not broken. I just need a reason; just a little bit will be enough; we can learn to love again.” Oh, the scars!

I grieve for a pair of empty-nesters’ loss of connection. They sing “we are just bent, we are not broken. We just need another reason; just a little bit will be enough; we can learn to love again.” Oh, the scars!

I cry out over the children scarred by their parent’s broken dreams. They sing “we are just bent, we are not broken. They just need a reason; just a little bit will be enough; they can learn to love again.” Oh, the scars!

We are a broken and scarred people.

Surrounded by brokenness, the norm makes the just bent seem a counterfeit.
Being broken, we never know what it is like just to be bent.
In our inner brokenness, we lack a visible comparison of how things should be; how things can be.

I know of no better example of our brokenness then the struggle of broken people to maintain love through a life time.  There is no hope written in the scars inflicted by broken-hearted people upon the ones they’ve proclaimed to love. The best those scars can achieve is an earthly wisdom of cause and effect.

The highest state of these scarred unions is a learned state of peaceful brokenness, continually learning to love again… Oh, the scars!

I don’t think it’s sin to be broken. It’s the result of sin to be broken.
~John Piper

Sin has broken us all and it continues to break and re-break those who live according to the flesh. … Oh, the scars!

True hope lies not in our scars but in the scars of Another.
True love flows not from our sinful hearts but from the Source of all love.

My mind returns to that painful garden of memories and transcends it to see a forty-something man with too much gray in his beard; a man who knows his own heart; a man whose inclination is not to love his wife well. He is a man who wants his own. He wants to be made much of. He is prone to wander. He desires all the pleasures this world has to offer.

Yet, he knows what that heart produces. He fears the product of his own heart; that in his quiet cerebral world the woman he loves may one day sing “we are just bent, we are not broken. We just need a reason; just a little bit will be enough; we can learn to love again.”

He doesn’t want the scars.  He knows that his marriage can be crushed just as all those he has watched crumbled.

Therefore, he clings to the good news.

We are not bound to a life of peaceful brokenness, continually learning to love again. Those who are in Christ have been set free from the shackles of sinful brokenness. We are new creatures in Christ Jesus. We have been given the Spirit of God to create in us holy fruit, pleasing and acceptable to our Father.

Consider the freedom of the glory of the children of God that comes from the union of two children of the Most High, whose eyes are not focused on each other but set upon the things of the Spirit. That is a union destined to overflow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

That is how two broken people can maintain love through a life time.

However, it starts by acknowledging that we are broken and not just bent, receiving the free gift of Jesus Christ as the payment for our sinful hearts, and daily setting our all on the One who has shown us perfect love.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for my wife. Thank you for our marriage. Lord, protect our marriage. Shepherd our hearts and keep us from wandering from you. Lord, you have been so faithful; you have been with us through every step we have taken together. Every victory has been through your power within us. Never once have we ever walked alone. Never once have you left us on our own. Lord, may our union bring glory to you through all the days you have given us together.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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PRIZE OF THE IRONMAN – June 5

June 5, 2014

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

 “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
~ Mike Tyson, Mike Tyson explains one of his most famous quotes

Training has been done;
Miles have been logged;
Intervals accumulated;
Laps swum; and
Injuries avoided;

The sugar-plums of my dreams have been replaced by visions of the swim, bike, and run.

All that remains is to race.

Swim race start (ITU ) World short course Tria...

The race for me is the Boise Ironman 70.3  that starts a mere 2 days from now. It would be a lie to pretend that I am not nervous. I have never raced this combination of distances. Therefore, the unknown of race day looms large in my mind.

I would like to have more time for a half-marathon run to be comfortable.
I would like to have done an open water swim this year.
I would like to have stacked a few more bricks.

Français : Photo de Pierre Lavoie à l'entraîne...

Yet, all the things that I would like to have done, would not chase away the apprehension of race day unknowns I now feel. The challenge for a prepared racer is far less physical than it is mental. The body will perform how it has prepared. Muscles will pull and push to the levels they have been stretched. Lungs will exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide at their rate of capacity. Blood will carry all the essentials provided in order to accumulate miles at speed.  An athlete’s body will perform in accordance to the training plan it has developed under.

The mind is the unknown.130608-F-IZ428-500

What happens when you enter the pain locker?

 What happens when the fun stops and adversity begins?

 What happens when you feel like you have been punched in the mouth?

That is the test of the mind.

We all have a plan.
We all have visions of success.

Yet, the mind determines whether those plans will be abandoned in the face of adversity.

I think this may be why I am drawn to endurance events. I want to train my mind not to give up under adversity. I want the confidence that I will continue when the plan really matters. My race on Saturday does not really matter. There are no consequences for not finishing. I have no hope of winning.  I won’t even be competitive.

IMG_6459

The prize I seek from the Boise Ironman 70.3 is the realization that I can take a punch and still finish.

That is a prize that will reward throughout life. Life is full of adversity.

We will fail… be misunderstood… and ridiculed;

We will be disappointed… abandoned… and betrayed;

We will be attacked… face fear… and uncertainty;

We will make mistakes… experience loss…and know heartache;

We will be broken.

Any of these adversities can feel like a punch in the mouth. Suffering and trials can hit us so hard that we are willing to abandon our plan, even our first love, to gain relief. How can you be confident that you will endure all things when it really matters?

This is the prize of suffering.

It is why I will rejoice in the pain that comes from the Boise Ironman 70.3.

It is why I rejoice in all the suffering that I have endured.

I rejoice because I have learned that I can take a punch and won’t give up. Throughout my life, I believe that the Spirit of God has used those punches to produce in me a character of endurance. It is a character, grounded in faith, which gives me a confidence based in experience. It is that character that produces hope. I rejoice in that hope. It is this hope that will never put me to shame because God’s love has been poured into my heart through the Holy Spirit who has been given to me.

What about you?

Can you take a punch in the mouth?
Are you confident in your character?
What has your character produced?

I realize that endurance events are not for everyone. However, there are plenty of opportunities in life to train our minds not to give up. It is why sticking with the small things matter. They are all opportunities to train our mind – and that is a prize worth enduring for.

My hope for you is:

When it gets hard, you go deep;
When it hurts, you look beyond;
When it is inconvenient, you continue;
When others run away, you stand;
When you want to give you, you take another step.

My hope for you is that you will rejoice in all the adversities of your life…because they will produce hope.

That hope is a prize worth training for.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for what you have taught me in suffering.  While I do not desire adversity, you have shown me the value it produces.  Thank you for the character that you have developed in me.  Thank you for the hope that will never disappoint.  Lord, train me in those areas were I am prone to give up.  Build within me a mental toughness to take a punch when it really matters and to continue to follow you. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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BRUNO’S EXCHANGE FOR A LIE – May 3

May 3, 2014

“Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God, for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” Romans 1:24-25

 Occasionally, the audacity of pop culture directly confronts and confounds me.

I normally travel within a sanitized cocoon of musical lyrics emanating from a radio of pre-set Christian stations. Long ago, I ceased to care about those who were occupying the top of the music charts, attending the awards shows, or  destined to define the current decade.

English: Bruno Mars performing in Las Vegas, N...

Since I only occasionally dip my toe into the pool of pop culture’s current offerings, I am usually astounded by the contrast of worship between these two worlds. This recently happened when I took a company car to a meeting. The radio was set to a local pop station and the melodies of Bruno Mars immediately grabbed my attention and got me bobbing to the rhythm. As I began to listen more closely to the lyrics, I found them ridiculous. I shook my head as he sang the following:

“Never had much faith in love or miracles
Never wanna put my heart on the line
But swimming in your water is something spiritual
I’m born again every time you spend the night
‘Cause your sex takes me to paradise
Yeah, your sex takes me to paradise
And it shows, yeah, yeah, yeah
‘Cause you make me feel like I’ve been locked out of heaven”
Bruno Mars, Locked Out of Heaven

Consider for a moment what these lyrics are communicating to the millions who have listened to this song (there are over 254 million views of this video on YouTude as of this date). He is willing to be barred from heaven because sex provides a suitable alternative. He does not need to be born again in Christ because he is born again in sex. I can only conclude that Bruno Mars has a stunningly low view of paradise if he truly thinks that sex is comparable.

The Christian’s understanding of paradise would be a poor hope for anyone if sex were an equitable exchange.

This song represents a culture with a shockingly low view of God. Bruno Mars is advocating a belief that the physical release of a sex caused neurological soup is equivalent to experiencing the majesty of the Divine Presence; an ordained voice in the choir of heavenly hosts is akin to the worship of created flesh; the momentary invigoration of sexual intimacy is equivalent to eternal rebirth into the family of the Creator.

Buddy Christ

This simple song represents the exchange by countless generations of Truth for the worship of the created. It is a capitulation to the inherent lie resulting from a low view of God. The sad reality is that this exchange of a low view of God is not limited to the world that does not know Him.

In today’s Christian culture, lofty exultations of God are often substituted for low, personal interpretations of a shallow god, unworthy of deep contemplation and worship.

How long is our silent adoration upon all the Biblical attributes of God?
How often are we awed by God’s absolute power and sovereignty?
How balances are devotions of “Jesus as friend” and “Jesus as Master”?

Our friendship with Christ is most amazing when viewed in the reality of Jesus as Lord. We will be tempted to make an inequitable exchange of knowing Christ Jesus for the worthless trinkets of this created world, when we lose our appreciation of the majesty of God. Paul said:

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Romans 3:8a)

Paul’s high view of God enabled him to recognize the disparaging worth between the created and the Creator. It is only through the worship of Jesus as Lord that losing everything in exchange for knowing Christ Jesus becomes an equitable exchange.

Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
(Psalms 46:10)

  • We need to learn the practice of silent and humble worship before throne of the King of kings.
  • We need to regularly experience the awe that inspires the laying down of crowns and scepters at the feet of our Redeemer.
  • We need to contemplate upon our Savior, high and lifted up, at the right hand of His Father, sovereign over all the earth as often as we are comforted by His loving friendship.
  • We need to strain through the fog of misplaced values and keep our eyes on the truth of God and the Paradise that awaits those who belong to Christ.

It is by keeping our eyes on the lofty personage of Jesus Christ that we will be kept from the horrid exchange of a lie for truth and consider it a bargain to lose everything for knowing Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever.

PRAYER: Father, I pray for Bruno Mars – open his eyes to your surpassing worth; show him the lie that he has exchanged for the truth about you.  Forgive me for all the times that I have made a similar exchange.  Forgive me for all the things of this  world that I have refused to count as lost.  Forgive me for taking such a low view of your majesty and surpassing worth.  Open my eyes, O’ Lord.  Change the loves of my heart.  Give me new passions and desires and to treasure the truth about you.  Help me to live in the reality of your Truth.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 RELATED POST:  GOD IS (NOT) MY BUDDY

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