Archive for the ‘Sanctification’ Category

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TRAINING PLANS – Jan 2

January 2, 2015

“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.  Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7-8

 training bibleAs I languish on the couch with used tissues accumulating around me, I am still sick (AM I SICK), I have been diligently working through my recent Christmas present.  I received the book The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joel Friel.

It only took a few chapters for me to realize that my training could be so much more effective.  The training philosophy espoused by Joel Friel is very different than what I have been doing:

An athlete should do
the least amount
of the most specific training
that brings continual improvement.

I have not been following this philosophy.  I tend to do random training workouts that usually focus on my strengths rather than weaknesses.  This haphazard training regiment survives reasonably well through approximately two-thirds of the season.  However, I have a tendency of burning-out toward the end of the summer.  I probably could be the poster-boy for the weekend warrior athlete’s battle with consistency.

Joel Friel is teaching me something new regarding how to maintain consistency.

Consistent training, not extreme training, is the way to attain the highest possible fitness.  Illness, injury, and overtraining can cause training breakdown, and extended or frequent downtime from such problems inevitably results in a loss of fitness and the need to rebuild by returning to previous levels of training…Consistency must serve as the ultimate standard in all training decisions…The key is to strive for moderation in training while resting at regular intervals.
~ Joel Friel, The Triathlete’s Training Bible, Page 7

Friel estimates that you will need to double the duration of a training break to rebuild the lost level of fitness.   That makes consistency the key to continual improvement.  Friel’s solution is to emphasis rest and recovering while maintaining fitness to avoid the inconsistency of significant breaks.

Just as the farmer’s field must lie fallow every winter, so does the human body, mind, and spirit need a rest, with time to reflect, recover, and rejuvenate.
~ Rob Sleamaker, Serious Training for Serious Athletes

That takes planning.  I have finished my annual training plan based on the guidance in The Triathlete’s Training Bible.  It is still a work in progress since I don’t have all my race, vacation, and work travel dates but this is what it is looking like so far:   Annual Training Plan   I am still in the process of creating my weekly and daily workout schedule in Training Peaks so I cannot share those specifics.

This planning process has been an excellent evaluation of what I am doing and why.  As a result, I am optimistic that my training plan for 2015 will guide me to training according to Friel’s philosophy – doing the least amount of the most specific training that will bring continual improvement and help me to achieve my goals.

While I concentrated on my athletic goals for 2015, I could not keep from reviewing my other resolutions for 2014.  I did not do very well.OpenBible

I did not read nearly the quantity or quality of books I had hoped.  Most disappointing, I did not stay consistent in my Bible reading plan and did not complete it.

I failed to memorize Romans 8, once again.

I failed on every single one of my prayer strategies.

I was not as consistent in writing this blog as I had hoped.

I actually gained weight.

I didn’t start a home Bible study.

I did not send out a note of encouragement per week.

The sharing of achievements is much more satisfying than the acknowledgement of unfulfilled goals.  However, I share my lack of success because I don’t think that I am alone.  According to a study by the University of Scranton, just 8% of the people who make New Year’s resolutions will achieve their goal.

There are a lot of reasons resolutions are abandoned but for me the number one reason is fatigue.  I get tired and give up.  My resolve breaks down under illness, disappointment, distraction, or simply taking on too much (overtraining).

The intent of my athletic plan is to increase consistency – consistency will produce continual improvement.  That is what I need in my spiritual life.  I want to make the most of the time I have been given.  Therefore, I am going to try an experiment in 2015.  I am applying what I have learned from Joel Friel into a new spiritual training philosophy for 2015:

I will strive for consistent spiritual training
as the standard for all my resolutions
while incorporating regular periods
of rest and reflection in order
to achieve continual spiritual growth.

That is going to take some planning.  I have finished my first draft of an annual spiritual training plan.  I am still working on what I am going to be doing for each “X” but this is what I have so far: Annual Spiritual Training Plan

It is still a work in progress so I will be interested to hear any advice or comments.

PRAYER: Father, you know my fickle, inconsistent heart.  You know that I love to start things but struggle to see it through.  Lord, help me to consistently walk in your Spirit through this coming year.  Father, I ask that you will guide and bless the plan  I have laid before you.  May it be a tool in my sanctification.  Create in me a pure heart.  Train me in godliness for your glory.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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SEEKING GOOD SOIL- Dec 22

December 22, 2014

“As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13:23

Two days past the solstice, my heart has returned already to thoughts of gardens.

While I relish my garden’s production of vegetables and fruits, they do not inspire winter dreams. For me, a preoccupation on production leaves gardening in the language of prose.

A garden should make you feel you’ve entered privileged space — a place not just set apart but reverberant — and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry.Michael Pollan

While the world could greatly benefit from more who turn a spade in the simple prose of production, a plot of soil takes on that unique designation of garden when the production of that plot harvests emotions, feelings and meaning beyond the yield of any farm.

Garden poetry emerges through careful crafting of landscape elements with the intent to evoke an emotion. The unique gardener’s vision of selection and placement creates the sense of a privileged place which differentiates a garden from a plot of productive soil.

My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.Claude Monet

Water Lilies

Garden poetry inhabits my winter contemplation.

These contemplations have been revolving around a garden inspiration which came from a recent visit to Monticello. Monticello’s West lawn has a winding path bordering between the lawn and Thomas Jefferson’s various botanical plantings. Jefferson walked along this path as his mode of daily exercise.

Monticello's West Lawn

Monticello’s West Lawn

Jefferson’s path is the inspiration for my North lawn.

While I currently do not need a pathway for physical exercise, I do need a pathway for spiritual exercise. I struggle for consistency in the spiritual discipline of prayer. Therefore, the privileged space I hope to create of my North lawn is a deeply personal masterpiece for my soul.

I’ve been dreaming and planning; drawing and erasing; researching and mulling over a prayer walkway. I hope to create a pathway that will lead me through a secession of prayers. As I walk along the pathway, there will be a variety of stations to lead me in my prayers for the various aspects of my life. Therefore, the selection of plants at each station of the pathway is essential to evoke the recollection and intent of the station.

I have been mulling stations for the Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit; governments of the world, the United States, Idaho, and my county; the Church universal, ministries of the seven continents, my local Church; my immediate and extended families; others – friends and associates; sources of enmity and enemies; work and provision; deliverance from temptation – seven deadly sins; and the concerns of self.

The selection of plants and structures which will produce the desired recollection has been a delightful way to pass the dormant season. However, I have encountered a hindrance common to many a gardener. Many of the plants that I would like to select will not be happy in the environment that they would be forced into. I do not have control over the climate and only limited control of the soil. Therefore, my plant selection must be subservient to the climate and soil of the planting.

My mind always seems to wander back to the parable of the sower when I think about gardening.

Example soil horizons. a) top soil and colluvi...

Have you ever wondered the composition of good soil?

How much nitrogen or phosphorous does it have?
What is its optimum pH range?
Is it free draining or does the clay content need to be high?

Jesus tells us that good soil is that in which the seed of the Word of God has been planted and the person hears the word and understands it. This person then grows in that good soil to produce fruit and yields a hundredfold, or sixty fold, or thirty fold.

But is the soil the same for everyone?

Just has God has created a variety of plants that thrive in different environments; I believe He has created variety in His children specifically suited to the environments He intends to send them.

God has gifted some to specifically thrive in intense heat of lifting their candle high;

Others flourish in the deep shade of ministering to the oppressed, abused and depressed;

Some blossom in a free draining flow of new thoughts and opportunities;

Others bloom in the saturated conditions of single familiar passages.

English: Soil types by clay, silt and sand com...

The seed of the Word is the same for us all. However, I believe the characteristics that constitutes good soil varies as widely as the personalities of God’s children. We make a mistake when we assume there is a prescribed formula that ensures the Spirit’s work of sanctification in our lives. We can end up trying to force ourselves into an environment into which we were never created to flourish.

Sanctification’s wonderful discovery is learning the soil or soils that God has specifically designed us to flourish in. It is why some produce a hundredfold in foreign soil as missionaries. It is why some people can bloom in a calling that I could not comprehend participating. It is why some need new soil free from a polluted past.

Every Child of God has a bountiful place in our Maker’s masterpiece garden.  We just need to find the soil that is best suited for our soul.

 

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the variety that you have created in plants and people.  Thank you for creating and calling your people to all the environments of this world.  Lord, lead us by your Spirit to those soils in which we were designed to produce in the masterpiece of your redemptive plan.  Father, you are the Master gardener.  You have created a poetry in creation that we so often overlook.  All of creation proclaims the intent of you, the Master Gardener.   Open my eyes to see.   Help me to display you in all that I do and produce.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SOUL CLEANSE- Dec 17

December 17, 2014

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:12-14

Weight and height are used in computing body m...As a year’s end rapidly approaches, I get a little retrospective. I was looking over my 2014 resolutions and was disappointed in the general lack of accomplishment. I was particularly disappointed with the progress toward my body weight goal.

I was 200 pounds at the beginning of 2014. My goal was to be 186 pounds at the close of this year.

I exercised more consistently this year than I have in my entire life. I ran more miles than I have ever run. I pedaled over more asphalt than I have ever cycled before. I followed the black line in my pool lane, lap after lap, for more laps than I thought possible (for me). I did the Jilian Michaels Body Revolution and P90X3.  I took a fitness test and it said that I have the fitness level of a 21 year old.

Yet, I was 204 pounds as of November 1st.

I know  I have put on muscle but that only explains a portion of my weight gain. My bathroom mirror exposes a lot of things, including the myth behind my rationalizations. The reservoir of fat that accumulates above the dam of my belt has persistently survived through the drought that I sought to subject it to. The reality is that the drought was not as severe as it needed to be. I no longer have the metabolism of a twenty-nothing. I can’t eat whatever I want and just workout a little more to stay lean.

My weight is a frustration because I do not eat excessively. I don’t drink carbonated-sugar colas or snack on junk food.  I have only an occasional dessert. My only meal of substance is dinner. Yet, the weight has persisted through a year of consistent exercise.

2014 has conclusively taught me that if I want to be lean then I have to watch both the quantity and quality of what I eat.

Therefore, my wife and I decided to treat ourselves to an early Christmas present – a Vitamix  and  Dr Oz’s two-week cleanse. My diet has been replaced by fruits and vegetables with a little bit (6 oz.) of protein for dinner. That is not very much.

However, this initial phase has been enlightening as to how much our grocery shopping has had to change. Our refrigerator crisper is now overflowing with produce that is actually eaten before it has a chance to rot; frozen fruit and Greek yogurt has replaced the ice cream.

When we made this concerted effort to refrain from our normal diet, we were able to access how many compromises were being made in what we consumed. They had not been huge compromises, but they all accumulate – right above my belt to be precise.

In general, we have been consuming the better rather than the best.

So far, I am very pleased with the results of our Christmas present. I am down to 196 lbs and 186 lbs seems possible by the time the 2015 triathlon and cycling season starts.

As I stared into my bathroom mirror and giggled in frustration the deposits that I hope will be gone by spring, I wondered about the fitness level of my soul. I live in a world with many very good things, a lot of neutral things, and a whole plethora of bad things. I take into my mind a regular diet that feeds my soul.

I believe that we can be spiritually fit with chunky souls.

We may know the basic principles of God.
We may be secure in the elementary doctrines of Christ.
We may  be steadily maturing in our faith.
Yet, we still retain that persistent “baby fat” of an immature follower of Christ.

Is your soul lean? Mature faith is lean faith

What is the diet of your soul?

Are you feeding your soul the solid food of the mature believer or the milk of the immature?

Is your diet filled with the things of the Spirit or the compromises of the flesh?

I believe it is good to do a periodic spiritual cleanse. When we make a concerted effort to refrain from the normal diet of what we allow into our minds, we are able to access how many compromises we make in our soul’s diet. These compromises might be sinful, but they don’t have to be. We may have merely substituted the better for the best. Compromises don’t have to be huge but they can accumulate to pull our eyes off of Christ and make us spiritually fat.  I believe that this process of stepping back and assessing what we let into our minds is instrumental in allowing the Spirit to train our souls to discern between good and evil.

Let us not settle for the better. Let us push on to the best. Let us push on to maturity with a diet that will feed a lean soul, fit for the work of our Lord.

PRAYER: Father, you have been so good to me.  Thank you for my faith.  Thank you for the maturity that you lead me in through your Spirit.  Father, teach me discernment.  Show me the difference between good and evil, better and best.   Lord, give me a desire to have a lean faith.  Give me an appetite for the things of you rather than the things of this world.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DISCOURAGING SHADOWS – May 9

May 9, 2014

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” Proverbs 4:18

I don’t like my shadow!

I have been spending a lot of time running. I am still building up my running miles for the Boise Ironman 70.3. I ran 10.6 miles (17.06 km) last night with two more weeks left to top 13 miles before starting to taper down prior to race day. As a result, my shadow and I have been spending a lot of time together on the lonely rural roads of my running routes.

Running is far more mental than you might think. It is very easy to fall out of form. I try to concentrate on a high cadence, feet landing under me at mid-sole, chest forward, arms pumping like a gun-slinger, and deep breathing. It feels great when it all comes together.

57536-largest_2012KonaTop15run4I feel like an athlete when I hit that rhythm in form. Images of my favorite triathlon videos play in my mind:

Bevan Docherty – Super-human Triathlon Sprint Finish
Crazy sprint finish between Javier Gomez & Jonathan Brownlee

My imagination paints the course of my impending race over the abandoned fields. I can envision myself running with long, fluid strides trailing behind me, speeding me to the finish line.

At a glance, my shadow crushes these delusions. When I look about me, I will catch a sight of my shadow. My shadow does not remind me of the runners in my favorite videos. It reminds me of Forest Gump and not the young Forest Gump but the desert shuffling Forest Gump. My strides look short and my torso looks fat as my shadow mockingly shuffles beside me.

forrest-gump-the-original-ultra-runnerI don’t like my shadow because it conveys a truth that is not helpful to dwell upon – I am sliding to 50 years old; I’ve been running (inconsistently) for less than 3 years; I can still lose another 10 pounds; and I am slow. Dwelling upon what I am, does not deliver me to what I am becoming and does not let me enjoy how far I have come.

surreal-running-shadow-scaledTherefore, I prefer to run into the sun. When I run to the sun, my shadow falls behind me and out of sight. I still am who I am – a middle-aged guy trying to stay in shape.  I know that I will never be an elite athlete,  but that reality does not need to steal the joy of being a triathlete and participating in the race.

Many people don’t realize that we cast a similar spiritual shadow. As Christians, we are being transformed from one degree to another into the image of Christ. We travel down our God-ordained paths of righteousness with the light of Dawn shining upon us; the Son illuminating our lives as we follow Him. However, the enlightenment of the Spirit will cast a shadow from all the areas of our lives that remain sinful and disobedient.

We can see who we were in our spiritual shadows. We can see all those areas of our lives where the righteousness of Christ has not cast away all darkness. I get discouraged by glimpses of my spiritual shadow – those plaguing sins; those inconsistent disciplines; those worldly loves; the slow pace of my sanctification.  In the past, I have become so discouraged that I questioned my salvation.  Focusing on my spiritual shadow resulted in a joyless religion.  Dwelling upon my sin never delivered me to what Jesus is making me and never raised praise in how much I have been transformed.

businessman-running-to-the-sunrise-with-his-shadowTherefore, I prefer to travel the path of righteousness with my face toward the Son. When I consciously focus my mind on the things of the Spirit, my spiritual shadow falls behind me and out of sight. This is not to minimize sin and the need to faithfully follow Christ, but that work is in front of us. What we have been or who we are, does not dictate who we are transformed into when our lives are illuminated by Christ.  I might never be an elite man of faith.  I know that I am a sinner in need of a Savior.  I also know that I am a Child of God with a seat at His table and that is more than enough to motivate me to continue in the joy of my salvation.

Don’t allow the joy of your salvation to be stolen
by focusing on your spiritual shadow.

Focus on the Son and enjoy the work of the Spirit in your life.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for redeeming.  Thank you for sanctifying me.  Turn my eyes toward you and away from all my continued failings.  Father, keep my face turned towards, you as I walk in the light of your Son as I continue along the path of righteousness that you have laid before me.  Keep me from being discouraged by my spiritual shadow.    I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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SPIRITUAL FREIGHT TRAINS – Mar. 26

March 26, 2014

“And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” Number 20:11-12

 Newton’s first law of motion: Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

Spiritual maturity entails learning to respond appropriately to the external forces that are applied to our lives. We can be in a good state –walking with all consistency in the Spirit. We can we be going in the right direction –following Christ with all of our heart. However, all of that uniform positive motion can be thrown into disarray by application of the slightest of force that is beyond our control.

Flickr contributor's description: Even kids on...

When I was younger much of the state of my spiritual motion was dictated by the decisions I was making. Decisions will always have consequences. My decisions applied internal forces within my life that drove me in good and bad directions. I was like a five-year learning to ride a bike without training wheels. I wavered all over the path that lay before me. There was nothing in my spiritual life that one would call uniform. I sped up and slowed down. I changed direction and then changed again as I sought out the balance of following Christ in a confusing and fallen world. The inconsistencies of my younger years were mostly due to the decisions that I was making.

As the years have passed by, the Spirit has shown me so much patience and grace while teaching me how to follow Christ. My spiritual life is far from perfect but I am no longer the wavering and inconsistent child that I once was. I look back and know that the Lord has matured my faith, despite myself, to a state of mostly uniform motion.

This does not mean that the spiritual state of the more mature is without wavering. I have come to learn how vulnerable my spiritual motion is to the forces that are beyond my control. We all have to deal with circumstances that are not of our choosing. We all have to respond to conditions that are not our preference. Most of these situations are beyond our control. Yet, they are external forces that can disrupt the uniform motion of our spiritual lives.

There was no man like Moses. He was meeker than all the people who were on the face of the earth. He lived a faithful life. God spoke to Moses, mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles. Moses beheld the form of the Lord. Moses’ faith was steadfast and uniform.

Yet, even Moses was susceptible to the disruption of external forces. The people of Israel gathered together to quarrel with Moses and Aaron. That was a bad decision. It was a decision that Moses and Aaron had no part of. Yet, it was an external force beyond their control that was applied into their lives and they wavered under it. Moses took his eyes off of the glory of God and responded in his own flesh – he spoke in anger, he usurped the place of God, and he acted with aggression. In that instance, Moses wavered due to the external circumstance that was applied to him.

The bad decisions of others created a bad decision for Moses from which he had to face the consequences.

The goal of spiritual maturity is to respond appropriately to other people’s decisions and/or circumstance that are not of our choosing. The spiritually mature child of God should be difficult to dislodge from his consistent motion behind the leading of his Savior.

Why is it hard to dislodge a freight train from its tracks?

To dislodge a freight train, one has to exceed the train’s mass and acceleration. The tremendous force of a train comes from its incredible tonnage and speed. There are few forces that can throw a freight train off its tracks. It can be done but it takes an awfully great wallop to do it.

A mature Christian should be like a spiritual freight train.
Only,
our tonnage comes from the glory of God and
our speed through the propulsion of the Spirit.

Hunter-Desportes / Foter / CC BY

We gain spiritual mass when we live for the glory of God. We are grounded when we treasure God more than anything else. The cares of the world can apply little force against a life that is filled with the wonder of the Almighty and living to uphold the holiness of God for all to see.

The child of God who sets his mind on the things of the Spirit is propelled forward as he walks according to the Spirit. The Spirit is the one who accelerates the follower of Christ forward in his faith toward life and peace.

Only the greatest of external wallops can waver the believer who lives within the bulk of God’s glory and knows the Spirit induced acceleration of a life focused only on the things of the Spirit.

May we all mature into spiritual freight trains. Lives lived with so much spiritual force that bad circumstance cannot dislodge us from our walks of uniform motion according to the Spirit.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for how far you have taken me.  Thank you for giving me the Holy Spirit to guide and teach me.  Thank you for keeping me from wandering away from you. Lord, teach me how to live with your glory constantly in my sight.  Help to continue to walk according to your Spirit.  Restore me back into faithfulness when I do waver from external forces.  Father, create in me a faith that is as stable as any freight train for you glory.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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“MAKING A GLAD STREAM” – March 1

March 1, 2014

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.”  Psalm 46:2

Snake River in Idaho

I received an overview of rivers as I trekked across southern Idaho for a recent ski day.  I crossed the Snake River, which is a slow, wide, and meandering river that is not very inviting.  The Snake River is a dark muddy river where I live.  It is full of sediment washed from thousands of acres.  It cuts into banks of soil in its century’s long search of the perfect course.  Energy continually dissipates as soils are consumed along the river bottoms, producing an opaque soup that is not fit to consume.

Stuck in Customs / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

As I ascend into the mountain reaches, the rivers become narrow and hardened.  The soils have long ago been washed away and the underlying rock exposed.  Channels lie fixed between mountain ranges.  Water flows with vigor and energy.  The life-sustaining water tumbling across the rocks of these rivers and creeks glistening in the morning sun, inviting a refreshing taste.

The parables and other imagery of the Bible mixed and mingled as I contemplated these rivers that accompanied me in a weary descent from an enjoyable day spent sliding down a mountain.

I could see my life as a follower of Christ illustrated in the changing of these rivers.

I know that I live mostly oblivious to the majority of the deep spiritual realities all around me – like looking through muddy water.  The polluting influences of my flesh have long obscured the truths of the living water of Christ.  I get periodic glimpses of fleeting clarity to bolster my hope during those brief periods when my eyes clear of selfishness and the resulting murk of life.

The eroding work of the Spirit has continued through the years to churn away at the banks of my idolatrous world.  I meander spiritually through this life as the Spirit relentlessly undermines one unholy edifice after another.  It has always been messy when a bank of bad soil finally collapses into the rushing power of the living water.  Confusion and questions swirling in the obscured wash of a life being gouged deep.

Yet, the Spirit is faithful.  The flowing power of the living water has never diminished and the cleansing flush of the divine always brings clarity through reliance, restoring tranquility to the child, love by God.  The seemingly meaningless meandering of a life endlessly eroded is never futile.  God is accomplishing a concealed purpose within the sightless depths of our soul.

English: Shoshone falls located in the state o...

He is washing the bad soil of our flesh away to reveal the bedrock of faith.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  (Matthew 7:24)

We are able to have a hope in the future only through a life firmly fixed upon the rock of Christ.  We can only find that rock through the hydraulic mining of the Spirit, removing layer after layer of bad soil from our lives.  The entire process of sanctification, being transformed from one degree to another into the image of Christ, is a messy and bewildering process.  We rarely can see through the muddy confusion of a life being hydraulically washed by the Spirit.

I have often been frustrated by the ostensibly random patterns to life.  I have wondered if I had jumped the banks of my purpose.  I have wondered why events have transpired in so unexpected ways.

By faith, I know that there is nothing random in the life of an heir of God (Rom. 8:16-17).

Maybe, all the chaos that we don’t understand is evidence to the continued work of God in our lives.

Maybe, the sudden bend in circumstance is another opportunity of the Spirit to remove the bad soil of our lives.

Maybe, the vigorous nature of suffering and disappointment is the living water driving deep into hidden crevasses of our soul to remove the last vestiges of rebellion.

We need to take heart through all trials and temptations because the Spirit of God uses those times to drive us onto the rock of our faith – Jesus Christ.  He loves us too much to allow us to build our lives on bad soil.  He loves us too much to leave us in our idolatry.  He loves us too much to allow us to continue meandering through life in an endless search for contentment.

It is because of love that He continues to wash us clean
– as painful as that might be.

My hope is that every child of God will look back at their lives and see a transformation as distinct as the difference between the Snake River and a mountain creek.

May we be washed clean and Christ exposed in every aspect of our lives.

May our course be gouged deep into the sure foundation of the King of kings.

May the living water flowing through our lives invite others to taste and see that the Lord God is so very good.

May the assurance of our salvation abound through the clarity of a life being continually washed by the word of God.

May our lives be streams that make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the good work that you continue to do in my life.  Thank you for continuing to erode away at my selfishness, disobedience, pride, and discontent.  Lord, thank you for repeatedly bringing me back to the sure foundation of your Son, Jesus Christ.  Please continue your work in me.  Don’t leave me as I am.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“THE SPECTACULAR ORDINARY” – Jan 28

January 28, 2014

“The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years.”  Exodus 12:28

Snow Valley

My calendar contains much anticipation.  Days are designated for future purposes, months in advance.  Yesterday, I took my kids snow skiing.  It was an event that occupied a spot on my calendar for months.

However, calendars never seem to diminish of special days and obligations.  Even while my children and I were sliding down snow covered mountain sides, my wife registered my son for his next NCFCA speech and debate tournament.  One special day was replaced by another.

A page of a calendar.

I understand that this experience is merely a result of living in an organized and responsible manner.  However, a fixation on  future special days can steal the exceptional from the intervening days of ordinary.  That is a great loss.

The ordinary typifies the children of God.  Consider how long the descendants of Abraham resided in Egypt.  Centuries pasted from the time  Joseph welcomed his father and brothers to Egypt to the time  Moses came to lead them to the Promised Land.

The Bible is silent about these intervening years but that does not mean God was not at work.  He created a nation in those silent years.  A family came into Egypt and after 430 years of ordinary, a nation left.  That is pretty special.

God still creates the special in our ordinary.

God sanctifies us in the day-in and day-out of the ordinary.  It is through the reliance upon Him in the mundane that the Spirit transforms our hearts by an imperceptible degree or two.

God draws our children to Himself through the faithful everyday examples of parent and grandparent who are living a real and vibrant faith.

God is magnified before those who don’t know him by His followers’ unusual reactions to everyday difficulties.

God still builds for Himself a nation in the ordinary.  He is doing it today as I prepare to go to work.  He will be doing it today as my wife teaches our children.  He will be on display as I respond to clients and coworkers.  It will happen in the ordinary evening I spend with my family before I go to bed.

God will be doing glorious works throughout this very ordinary day.

May we not lose the blessings of the ordinary in our addiction to the spectacular.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for all  the special days that you have blessed my family and I with.  Thank you for doing wonderful works in my life that have caused me to praise and draw close to you.  Father, I equally thank you and am grateful for all the ordinary days that you have given me.  Thank you for the spectacular work  you will do in me and my family today even though I may scarcely notice it.  Thank you for the incremental transformations in my life that you are continually blessing me with through these long ordinary day.  Father, continue that work in my life and the lives of my family.  Lord, open my eyes so that I never diminish your spectacular work in the ordinary.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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