Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

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The sugar-plums of my dreams have been replaced by visions of the swim, bike, and run.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

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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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ASCENDING THE IMPOSSIBLE – May 1

May 1, 2014

“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’” John 3:3

I just returned from another business trip to Mount Rainer National Park. Unlike my last trip (Knowing Greatness without Sight), the skies were clear and I was able to behold clearly the mountain. I gazed upon the heights of the mountains with a yearning eye.

IMG_20140429_185759_417 (3)The clarity of the skies promised an unimpeded view to anyone at the pinnacle of such a mountain. I so wanted to see that view. Yet, I knew that neither I nor anyone else would behold the view on that day. The snow is still too deep and the trails too treacherous to ascend Mount Rainer. Therefore, the prize of the glorious view from its pinnacle was not beheld by any mortal man on that clear day.

IMG_20140429_191018_723 (2)There is another site that is even more unattainable than the wintry panorama of Mount Rainer’s peak. No man can ascend to God’s presence and behold the Kingdom of God. For this site, Jesus told us that we must be born again.

How does one ascend to a peak that has no trail?
How does one scale a summit whose base cannot be found?
How does the flesh accomplish that which is born of the Spirit?

It is impossible. It is impossible for man to find access or even to see the Kingdom of God from the pinnacle of any human accomplishment. No one can ascend to heaven.

No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. (John 4:13-15)

crossThis is the glorious good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The ascent to heaven, access to the Kingdom of God, is now possible – not by any work of the flesh but by the work of the Spirit.

We can stand at the pinnacle of the mountain of God and see His Kingdom. We can enter into His rest and eternal life. It is an ascent that we cannot make but was accomplished for us. The prize of this summit is a gift given to all how believe in the Son of Man, Jesus Christ.

Praise be to God who has made the impossible possible. May we marvel at the miraculous heavenly things of God Almighty!

PRAYER: Father, thank you for making a way to your holy presence. Thank you for making the ascent to your Kingdom for us.  Thank you for the work the Spirit that I might be born of the Spirit.  Forgive me for my lack of marvel at the gift of eternal life that you have given me.  You are great and greatly to be praised.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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QUOTE (J. Edwin Orr) – April 22

April 22, 2014

orr“The life of the majority of churches and societies is sub-normal, stunted in growth, paralyzed instead of powerful. What is the trouble? It is just general backsliding…Churches, and all other groups of Christians, are just like individuals–either they are growing in grace or else they are backsliding…Pretence and disappointment-disappointment and pretence. This is the condition of multitudes of starved Christians. The author has been privileged to witness God’s power manifested in many genuine revivals–and it has always been noticed that those who are disappointed get a glimpse of new hope…those who pretend get shown up. “Search me, 0 God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts; see if there be any wicked way in me; and lead me in the way everlasting.” The important thing to remember is repentance is the prelude to revival. The Church must first Repent.”
~ J. Edwin Orr

In honor of J. Edwin Orr, a Baptist minister and promoter of Church revival and renewal,who died on this day in 1987.

Resources:
Today in Christian History – April 22
The Church Must First Repent

 

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QUOTE (F.D. Maurice) – April 1

April 1, 2014

English: Photograph from 1865 original edited ...

“Christians in general are far too eager to urge special exceptions when they hear these charges [of corruption in the church] preferred; far too ready to make out a case for themselves while they admit their application to others; far too ready to think that the cause of God is interested in the suppression of facts. The prophets should have taught us a different lesson. They should have led us to feel that it was a solemn duty, not to conceal, but to bring forward all the evidence which proves, not that one country is better than another, or one portion of the church better than another, but that there is a principle of decay, a tendency to apostasy in all, and that no comfort can come from merely balancing symptoms of good here against symptoms of evil there, no comfort from considering whether we are a little less contentious, a little less idolatrous than our neighbors.”
~ Frederick Denison Maurice

In honor of F.D. Maurice, an English theologian and Christian Socialist, who died on this day in 1872

Resources:
This Day in History for 1st April
F.D. Maurice Quotes

 

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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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JOY IN SALVATION – Mar. 19

March 19, 2014

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much.  But he who is forgiven little loves little.”  Luke 7:47

We have all seen reactions of the unexpected.

RMHK-Michael / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The joy of the one who expected to stay seated when the awarder calls their name;

The exhilaration when an unachievable goal is achieved;

The shocked speechlessness at the generosity of a gift;

The tearful gratitude when the defenseless is defended.

The daily grind of my days may have ephemeral hints of these diffused emotions, but not as frequent as I think that it should.

More often, my days begin and end in the structure of muted routine.

The morning of another day commences with the structure of a Bible reading plan – a little Old Testament, a little New, bashed with some Psalms and garnished with contemplation.

The day is lived managing the cares and troubles allotted.

Evening ushers the day to closure with some reading and prayer – mostly focused upon the day previous and the one to come.

FredBaby13 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The faithful practice of the Christian faith can lead us into an attitude of the entitlement and wonderless-ness.  We can become accustomed to our salvation.  We expect our name to be called.  We can be so familiar with the bridge that spans the unachievable gap that we bounce and play on it.  Our words run on with academic “isms” in abstruse explanations of the marvelous gift freely given.  We walk confidently in the obligated defense of covenant.

I wonder whose attitude my daily existence most often reflects?

Simon the Pharisee – who did not wash Christ’s feet, never gave Him a kiss, and neglected to anoint his head.

The sinful woman of the city – who washed Christ’s feet with tears of gratitude, soiled her hair to dry His feet, and willingly gave expensive oil to anoint His head.

The reality of this comparison is displeasing .

I have a need that is greater than a desire for fresh revelation.
I require nutrition of something greater than a fresh telling of old truths.
I have a want that comes from a well deeper than spiritual discipline.
I have an essential necessity for remembrance.

Followers of Christ need to remember.  We should frequently remind ourselves of who we were.  We must regularly preach the gospel to our own soul.  We must daily acknowledge the unsanctified reality of our hearts.  We must practice marveling at the perfection of Christ in contrast to our imperfection.  We are not good.  We are not worthy.  All that we have to offer are filthy rags.

We need to live in the joy of our salvation so that we will live in the gratitude of the sinful woman of the city.

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.  Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.  Psalm 51:8-12

May we be a people who remember what has been done for us and take ecstatic joy in His salvation of our souls.

PRAYER: Father, restore to me the joy of your salvation.  Uphold me with a willing spirit.  Open my eyes to the wonder of what you have given me.  Forgive me for living ungratefully and entitled.  Renew a right spirit within me.  Help me to remember the beauty of the gospel.  Revive my dry attitude that has come with familiarity.  You have been so good to me.  You have blessed me with so much.  I was lost in my sin, worthy of your condemnation, and yet you saved me while I was still in rebellion against you.  Your love to me is abounding.  Your mercy is without boundaries.  Your grace is beyond comprehension.  Thank you – with all my heart and soul.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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EMBRACING JUDGMENT – Mar. 17

March 17, 2014

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”  Philippians 3:17

National Christian Forensics and Communication...

National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have spent the last three days, five if you count travel, with my family in Richland, Washington for the National Christian Forensics and Communication Association (NCFCA), Tri-Windy Speech and Debate tournament.  My son competed in two speech categories and Lincoln- Douglas debate.  However, I think that I was more consumed with this tournament than he was.

These tournaments rely upon community members to be judges for the students.  Parents are used to fill in the judging gaps as necessary.  Unfortunately, there were a lot of gaps to fill at this tournament, so I spent a lot of time judging.  I was responsible for determining winners and losers of debates.  I had to place speakers in a ranking order from 1 to 7 or 8.  I had to have opinions.  I had to have preferences.  I had to judge and reveal my conclusions.

After a speech or debate, I was thanked by each competitor for giving my time to come and be a judge for them.  They welcomed being judged.  While I was there for them, I don’t know if these competitors grasp how much they are impacting the judges that sit before them.  Those who judge cannot help but be influenced by those they are judging.

I am two days removed from the competition but I am still lingering over the spoken words from that tournament:

I am still savoring the tears of compassion elicited by words spoken with a quiet, confident, spirit.

I am still smiling in remembrance of the precious lisp of a voice given to a cricket who just wanted to be a butterfly (I Wish I Were a Butterfly).

I am still feeling the empathy that came from a delicate portrayal of mental illness. (The Yellow Wallpaper)

I am still appreciating how two competitors made a caterpillar come to life.  (Alice in Wonderland)

I am still awakened to the reality of a child soldier. (War Child: A Child Soldier’s Story)

I am still relishing the tears of laughter from the creativity of an interpretation of  Dr. Seuss.

I am still encouraged by the student who endured when his memory failed him.  He fought through to the end with courage greater than the comic-book characters he was portraying.

This tournament was ostensibly about the competitors.  However, there is always so much more happening when an individual embraces judgment.  The judged will inevitably influence the judge.  These competitors are learning the skills of the spoken word.  These are skills that will assist them in influencing their world for the rest of their lives.  However, that influence is not just in the future – I was influenced by their words.  These speech and debate tournaments are less about the competitors than they may realize.  These competitors are influencing the judging adults that sit before them now because of their willingness to be judged.

If they were not willing to be judged,
they would never influence these adults.

Georg Gsell. "The Apostle Paul."

We live in a world resistant to judging.  Often, we will try to protect ourselves from judgmental eyes.  However, we will never influence a world without embracing judgment.  When Paul challenged us to imitate him, he was opening himself up to judgment.  We form opinions about Paul’s life because of his challenge; we have to determine if his example is worthy of following.  Paul embraced the judgment of others and profoundly influenced the world.  If Paul had worried about judgment, he would never have interacted with the world.  He would never have spoken publicly.  He would never have written letters.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul had a profound influence over the world, because he was willing to be judged.

The world watches all of us.
We can either scorn their judgmental opinions or
we can embrace the opportunity to influence.

Going out into the world is a declaration of our willingness to subject our lives to the judgment of the world.

Are you willing to allow your words to be judged?
Are you willing to allow your decisions to be judged?
Are you willing to allow your beliefs to be judged?
Are you willing to allow your life to be judged?

It is not about us; it is about influencing those who judge.   The willingness of those who are willing to be judged are an example to me:

Judge the words I speak;
Judge the words I write;
Judge how I conduct business;
Judge how I have chosen to raise my family;
Judge my faith.

I want to live a life that influences my world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, I embrace the judgment of those who watch.  I embrace their judgment because I know that they will be influenced while they evaluate me.  May we all be willing to stand before the judging eyes of our world so that we may be profound influences upon those who are watching and listening.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me of my fear of other people’s judgment.  Forgive me for relinquishing opportunities to influence this world because I am afraid of a negative reaction.  Help me to welcome the evaluation of my life; use my life to influence the world around me.  Lord, I pray that you will draw others to your Son, Jesus Christ, through the influence that comes from a willingness to be judged.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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