Monday, July 26, 2010

Facing our Struggles: Endurance makes it Possible

Recently I have been trying to jog at least once a week.  In my attempt to both improve upon injury and get back into physical shape I have discovered how weak I really am.

It`s a true saying:  You never know until you try.

So each week I turn on some tunes and get the legs going and see how long it will take me to get to my destination.  The heat of summer doesn`t make it easy, plus the pain sometimes gets to me, but I am happy every time I can reach that goal.

Every step, especially near the end, is a grind and I feel like perhaps I should just walk the rest of the way, but mentally as well as physically, I know I need to practice endurance.

Endurance helps us hold on till we get to that finish line, or that goal.  It is part of the formula of success.  Not financial success necessarily, but success in life. 

It doesn`t matter how talented you are, or how great things have gone, every person hits their limit.  I am reminded of famous actors, sports players, or politicians that failed to endure and ended up in very bad places.

The Bible speaks about endurance very often, especially in the Epistles to the early Church, who was facing horrid persecution in some areas and cultural integration difficulties in others. 

To have endured through tough times is considered a true blessing.  This is because any person can go through a happy time in their life without knowing the quality of who they are, or have a need to improve themselves, or a need to rely on the grace of God.

Consider James 5:11

It is a reminder to me that endurance is what gets us to the destination...not our talents or abilities, or luck, or connections..."just don`t stop"  That is what God says to us and He will do the rest.

It certainly gives mixed feelings doesn`t it?...but there is comfort in our trials when we think to ourselves:

We will endure, as we trust in God, who was, is and will always be.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Facing our Struggles: Momentum

We are forever sliding on the scale.  Our nature slipping us back into selfish, reckless, and violent evil while the hand of God moves us towards grace and righteousness. 

If you are like me, you hardly ever realize you are sliding back until it`s too late.  In my human will, I cannot muster the strength to rid my mind of bad habits, or bad behaviors.  I cannot generate that momentum to go in the other direction.

This is when I have seen God`s redemptive power in my life, when He takes events, people, and places and uses them to give me momentum to go in the other direction.  Once we have momentum it seems a lot easier to do what is right.  We have confidence and faith and we can look at our life with clarity.  The motion of life becomes joyful and we see God at work in our lives again when begin move towards righteousness.

Again without the relationship with God through the person of Christ, there cannot be such a shift.  For the unbeliever, there needs to be a rescue before this moving along the path.  Yet seeking aid, help from our troubles is the beginning of true enlightenment and salvation. 

And for those who face each day with the knowledge and relationship with Christ, there is hope that if we are falling back that we need only call for that change in momentum in our lives.  For with His help we are able to run swiftly, as deer in the high places.  We can say, do and accomplish things that are far beyond our comprehension.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Facing our Struggles: Letting Go versus Losing Control

What do we have control over??
Not much...
At the most ,we have limited control over ourselves, some people more than others.

But what happens when we lose control over our emotions, our desires, and ultimately our behavior.

The consequences are costly.

Just with a few words we can inflict damage. With disorderly behavior, we can create a lifetime of trouble for ourselves.

We are capable of great evil, no matter what any person might say.  However, within us there is a force that holds this chaos back.  Some are aware of this and others not.

Even if the best of us thinks themselves righteous, I would wager that they have yet to be severely tested.  Let us look at Job as an example of God`s ultimate test of human righteousness.

And what did Job say at the end of it all, "I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

Let`s not forget though, that there is redemption and renewal available to those who have faith and believe both in God and themselves.

God will not force you to be righteous, but will guide you and put you in situations to refine you.
Most likely the situations where you lose control and must give control to Him. :)

I still very much need to learn this lesson on giving up control.

How about you?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Connecting Life with Faith: Love is a choice

Love is a choice that takes place everday.

Certainly feelings are involved in everything we do, but ultimately the choice we face daily with the people around us is: Do we act according to love or not love them?

But love isn`t is costly.

Some days it may only cost us a smile and one day it may cost you your life. Think of all the examples of loving sacrifice you hear of in the news, or on TV, or maybe you even know some personal examples or people in your life who have paid the ultimate price.

Love feeds our souls. You can live for love....or live off of hate. It is interesting to note how love and hate are actually closely related. They are not opposing forces you see. Hate is just the love of the opposing side of another. If a person hates one thing it is because he loves another.

The absence of love....apathy. That is the choice not to care, or act for something.

Love is a strange substance. Some days we feel it, others we don`t. When we choose it, we may feel different other times we feel exactly the same as before.

It is hard to put our finger on...not fully understood and comprehended...but universal in every way. The smallest babe to the oldest person knows what love is.

Emotions may move us into a place of action, but love is the button push that sends us into motion.

Our feelings give us the green, yellow, or red light, but we have to push the accelerator.

When we wake up the morning, the sunshine reminds of the grace and time we have, and love calls us to choose it today. It`s up to you!

Love someone in the best way you can today and there will be no regret for you when the sun goes down.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Connecting Life with Faith: Being a Witness

As Christians, many of us hear the term "evangelism." We imagine some form of religious sales pitch, or something to be memorized from a pamphlet. Sharing the gospel message is very important. After all Jesus was very clear that His followers were to be "witnesses" to Jerusalem and even to the ends of the earth.

But what I want to focus on is the word "witness." Sometimes we can overcomplicate things when sharing our faith as a form of pressured appeal.

First of all, witnesses don`t necessarily walk around in public and declare their testimony. Imagine the courtroom, witnesses are asked questions and have answers ready to share. "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." Peter 3:15

Secondly a witness talks about their experiences, their story, their personal testimony. Certainly it may not be objective, but what we are called to do is share what Christ has done for us and is doing in our lives now. It doesn`t need to be complex theology, or argumentative. It is simply the tale of your life with Christ.

Now it helps to have a collection of stories and experiences to tell your audience. But what reaches them more is the enthusiasm and Spirit in which you speak. If you are truly exicted about your life in Christ, it will most certainly show.

Recently I had a chance to be a witness to a friend of mine and I was reminded of the joy it can bring. I was reminded of one of the greatest experiences of following Christ: sharing your history with Him with another.

Let`s remember that we are witnesses. We are eye witnesses to Christ`s work in our lives. Our testimonies will always be used by God, either to soften or harden hearts. Our responsibility, our calling is to simply speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the help us God.
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