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TALENTLESS GLORY – Sept 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien

 

In honor of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, best known as the author of the classic works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, who died on this day in 1973.

 

Resources:
J.R.R. Tolkien – Wikipedia
Quotes by J.R.R. Tolkien

 

 

 

Originally posted on CHRISTian ~ poetry by deborah ann:

Holy Spirit by Michaela Baltazar free photo #4686

If I could reach into your soul,
I’d put Jesus into your heart
with the promise, that from you
He would never leave or depart.

I would assure you of the hope,
that now dwells inside of you
I’d tell you to count on Jesus
the rest of your life through.

If I could reach into your mind,
I’d put God’s peace into your thought
with the assurance, for your sins
on the cross, Jesus died and bought.

I would assure you of God’s grace,
how in your heart, He now lives
I’d tell you of God’s mercy
how through Jesus, He forgives.

If I could reach into your soul,
I’d put the love of Jesus into you
but, I know that it’s the work . . .
the Holy Spirit ~ needs to do!

~~~~~~~~~~~

John 15:26

“But when the Comforter is come,
whom I will send unto you…

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“For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.” Psalms 149:4

The triathlon season has come to a close for me. I competed in only two events this summer, the Boise Ironman 70.3 and the Emmett Most Excellent Triathlon. I am confrontDSC_0085ed by very different emotions as I reminisce over the two events.

The Boise Ironman was an event that I trained specifically for. I blogged several times regarding my apprehensions associated with this new and longer distance. I had specific goals for each leg of the race.

I hoped to swim the 1.2 mile distance between 40 to 45 minutes.
I wanted to do the 56 mile bike in less than 3 hours.
All I wanted to do was survive the ½ marathon; my goal was a time of 2 hours 30 minutes.

swim-massThe swim was cold – frigid cold.  So cold, I wanted to quit when my head broke the surface for the first time. However, the race start filled me with enough adrenaline and coursing blood that cold water concerns quickly evaporated. I swam my typical serpentine route as I struggled to stay on course. Other than getting a little motion sickness from swimming through a couple wakes and drinking a couple waves, the swim went very well. I came out of the water right at 40 minutes. I was thrilled.

My official time corresponded well with my experience – 40:05, 2:04/100 average.

DSC_0108My plan on the bike was to ride within myself and stick to my nutrition and hydration schedule. I tried to maintain a speed of over 20 mph on the flat sections of the course, knowing that my average speed would suffer on the hills. Surprisingly, I was averaging just over 20 mph as I descended back into the City of Boise. However, my stomach threatened to revolt. I had been regularly drinking the Gatorade that I was packing and consuming a gel packet on the ½ hour. By mile 45, the thought of eating another gel pack made me want to vomit and I acquiesced to the will of my stomach when it sent up a warning “erp”. I slowly watched my average speed fall as I tried to manage the fatigue that was creeping into my legs. However, I still held onto my goal of finishing the ride in less than 3 hours. I chuckled when the timer beep signaled the end of my ride with only seconds to spare.

My official time corresponded well with my experience – 2:29:53, 18.68 mph average.

I transitioned to the run and into the unknown. I managed the first couple miles relatively respectfully. However, my heart rate began to rise and fatigue was setting in alarmingly fast. I changed to a run-walk strategy. I ran until my heart rate cliDSC_0110mbed to 160 bpm, when I would walk it back down to 140 bpm. I did this throughout the run and to my surprise it was a reasonably pleasant experience. I was going agonizingly slow as a constant stream of runners continued to pass me, but at this point I did not care.  I just wanted to finish. I shuffled over the finish line just over 2:30.

My official time corresponded well with my experience – 2:30:53, 11.31/mile average.

0727_010853Overall, I finished with a time of 6:17:27. I had hoped to finish at 6:15, but I was very satisfied with my performance. I was 68th out of the 105 athletes in my age group; my typical place in the meat of the bell curve. My experience corresponded well with the official results.

My second race of the season came after a week of business travel, followed by a week of County fair. I went to sleep after 11:30 PM following an evening at the 4-H and FFA livestock sell with the decision not to race the following morning. However, I awoke with plenty of time to make the race that I had pre-registered and paid for. I never have the opportunity for open water swims so I figured I would do the race for the swim and see what happened with everything else.

I had the best swim that I have ever had in a race. I swam a reasonably straight route and did not have any major corrections. For the first time, I did not even get caught up in the melee at the turning buoys. I focused on stretching long and felt like I was going fast; very few swimmers passed me. When I came out of the water, I discovered that I had missed the start button on my watch so I had no time. I came out just behind this young guy and felt very good about the fact that there were not very many athletes in the transition area.

My official time for the swim was 27:20, 1:40/100 average.

This time was only 20 seconds faster than my time last year. I felt so much faster than last year. Also, according to the official time, the guy coming out of the water ahead of me was 41 years old, not the twenty-nothing kid I had remembered. My experience did not correspond this official record.

I had a very good ride. I was feeling strong and did way more passing than being passed. I was averaging between 22-23 mph over most of the route. A young guy passed me on the most significant climb and we exchanged some words of condolence. He became my pace setter as we headed back to the City of Emmett. Some weird cross winds picked up over the last third course so I contented myself with riding between 20-21 mph. The last check of my average speed was 21.75 mph as I came into the City of Emmett.

My official time was 1:10:46, 21.07 mph average.

This time was actually 19 seconds slower than my time last year. That did not make any sense. I know I rode that course faster than last year. According to the official time, the young guy that paced me on the bike was actually the same 41 year old guy who came out of the water 2 seconds ahead of me. My wife videoed me coming into the bike-run transition area and also caught a glimpse of the rider just ahead of me. I found a picture of the athlete who should have been ahead of me according to the official records on Linkedin and checked it against the video. They don’t look like the same guy.

DSC_0309I began my run with the usual trepidation. The day was relatively cool and I was feeling good. The normal flow of runners passing me did not seem as ferocious as usual. I was hoping to run the 10K under 1 hour and after a first lap of just over 28 minutes, I was right on pace. I checked my watch regularly with about two miles to go. It was going to be close. I lengthened my stride and really started to dig deep over that last ½ mile and I was encouraged as I gobbled up several athletes who had passed me earlier. The last check of my watch as I headed down the final stretch put me under 59 minutes, I was going to make it. I crossed the finish line and as they were cutting my timing chip off of my ankle, I stopped my watch – 59:something. I had done it and came in under 1 hour.

My official time was 1:00:08, 9:41/mile average.

That was a 10 second per mile average improvement over last year but it did not correspond at all to my own time. By my reckoning, I should have been about a minute faster.

Overall, I finished with a time of 2:41:10. I was 6th out of the 13 athletes in my age group and exactly 1 minute faster than last year. However, my experience of the race tells me that I should have been knocking on the door of the podium.

I can easily accept the official results of the Boise Ironman because they are confirmed by my experience. I probably will never fully accept the official results of the Emmett Most Excellent Triathlon because they are so counter to what I experienced. However, the official results of both races stand, whether I accept them or not.

In many ways, the tale of these two triathlons illustrates one of the most significant stumbling blocks to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel tells us that every person is a sinner in need of a Savior. It tells us that we are not good. It tells us that we have rebelled against God and have earned the punishment of hell.

The Gospel is good news to those whose experience corresponds to the official record of the Bible. For these, Jesus Christ saves them from what they know they deserve and gives them what they could never earn.

The Gospel is a stumbling block to those whose experience tells them that they are good enough. Their experience has them comparing themselves to other people and concluding that they do not deserve condemnation. Their pride leads them to follow their own understanding and reject the official record of pending judgment.

Just as it is pride that elevates my race experience to equality with an official timekeeper, it is pride that keeps a person from acknowledging his place before God and keeps God from exalting him. It is pride that makes people believe that they deserve the podium.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:10)

At the end of the age, it is only the official record that will stand. It will not matter whether we agree with it or not. All will be humbled before the splendor of His majesty. All pride will crumble and utterly pass away before the Lord.

And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled,
And the lofty pride of men shall be brought low,
and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.(Isaiah 2:17)

Don’t wait until that day to let go of your pride for then it will be too late. Today is the day to accept the official record of the Lord God and to receive the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for breaking my pride and enabling me to see past my experience and to the truth of your Word.   Forgive me for reverting back to that old pride and not living daily in the good news of the Gospel.  Lord, enable me to not think of myself.  Help to keep my eyes firmly fixed upon you. Father, break down the stumbling block of pride that is keeping the lost focused upon their personal experience.  Call them to yourself and salvation.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

Originally posted on Every Thought Captive:

Quotation MarksAs I was putting together ’31 Days of Prayer’, I scoured books and websites for quotes on prayer that would encourage and inspire me in my own prayer life, and would help as I wrote this series. Over the course of these 31 days, not all the quotes are going to find their way into the posts, but they’re just too good to pass up. So, here are 50 of the best quotes on prayer that I could find. Be challenged and encouraged by the insights of God’s people! Which is your favourite?

“God likes to see His people shut up to this, that there is no hope but in prayer. Herein lies the Church’s power against the world.” (Andrew Bonar)

“Prayer is the most tangible expression of trust in God.” (Jerry Bridges)

View original 1,621 more words

 

“There is not a book on earth so favourable to all the kind, and to all the sublime, affections, or so unfriendly to hatred and persecution, to tyranny, injustice, and every sort of malevolence, as the GOSPEL. It breathes nothing throughout but mercy, benevolence, and peace…. Such of the doctrines of the gospel as are level to human capacity appear to be agreeable to the purest truth and soundest morality. All the genius and learning of the heathen world, all the penetration of Pythagoras, Socrates, and Aristotle, had never been able to produce such a system of moral duty, and so rational an account of Providence and of man, as is to be found in the New Testament.”

 
~ James Beattie

In honor of James Beattie, a Scottish poet and philosopher, who died on this day in 1803.

Resources:
This Day in History for 18th August
James Beattie Quotes

 

 

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6

 Mediation is a process intended to intervene in a dispute in order to resolve it. The success of mediation depends upon the disputing parties’ willingness to resolve the conflict. A mediator will never be successful if either or both disputants are unwilling to resolve that which separates them. 

Mediation%20BacksI was reminded of this prerequisite during a mediation I recently participated in.  I have blogged several times about a dispute that has entangled my company for several years.

 But I Don’t Wanna to be Slapped
Dealing with Troubles
A Prayerful Run
Struggle to Forgive – Again

 As you can see, this lawsuit has been looming in the back of my mind for years. While confident that a court will vindicate our reputation, the cost and uncertainty of litigation motivated us to count the days to mediation.  I was looking forward to the appointed day of mediation.  I was optimistic that our antagonist was finally ready to resolve this seemingly endless dispute.

It has been over five years since this chasm destroyed the relationship of a long-term client. We had been their trusted advisor for more than ten years and had successfully completed hundreds of projects. Yet, that history was tossed away like rubbish when a problem arose on a significant project.

Millions of dollars (literally millions) have subsequently been spent in adherence to recommendations of new advisors. Advisors, who have reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars destroying a relationship based upon lies and mis-information in my opinion.

They have thrown treasure after a course of action without ever seeking a response to their accusations. They have readily believed the words of  “professionals” with whom they have no history, without even inquiring the opinion of the professionals with whom they have known for years to faithfully pursue their best interest.

They have swallowed the lie and have become liars. They only know one-side of the story yet they willingly followed the lie because it promises to provide the delight of their eyes that their accounts cannot afford. They believe it to such an extent that they cannot conceive of a necessity to mediate. Therefore, they rejected the opportunity to resolve our dispute and will continue their legal intrigues, sacrificing their integrity in pursuit of misguided opportunity.

The failure of this mediation means that this all too familiar burden will probably be carried into the coming year and beyond. This blog post has taken me several iterations to write as I have once again been confronted with the anger and forgiveness that this conflict distills to the surface of my mind. It is difficult to sit across the table from individuals who have plotted the destruction of your livelihood.

Yet, I should not be surprised by the conflict I find myself entangled in. I should be thankful that it does not happen more often because the basis of the dispute has been the scourge of man since the beginning. I am reminded of the first ancient lie that was blindly followed.

 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:4)

 Adam and Eve believed what the serpent said; willingly accepting this new advisor because his words promised the delight of their eyes. They blindly followed words that they wanted to be true and never went back to God to confirm the words of the serpent or to get the other side of the story.

Since Adam and Eve, all of mankind has followed in the legacy of that first lie. The result of blindly following lies has resulted in conflict between God and every individual who has walked the surface of this earth. Every person has broken the righteous requirement of God’s law.

We all have a choice – take our chances in front of the judgment seat of God or meditate.

The good news is that God has provided us a mediator. He has sent his own Son, Jesus Christ, to condemn the sin in our flesh and to resolve our dispute with Him.

Art4TheGlryOfGod / Foter / CC BY-ND

However, the success of mediation depends upon the disputing parties’ willingness to resolve the conflict. God is willing. He has done His part. He is willing to accept the ransom of Jesus Christ, the propitiation for our sins. However, this divine mediation will never be successful if a person is unwilling to resolve that which separates him from God.

Divine meditation is God’s greatest gift to mankind.

Don’t reject His mediator, Jesus Christ. Don’t blindly believe whatever lie that promises to grant you the delight of your eyes. If you have not accepted Jesus Christ as the ransom for your sins, then you are still in conflict with the God.

Come to the mediation table God has prepared. Come with a willing heart and receive forgiveness of your sins and be reconciled with God.

The opportunity to mediate will not last forever – today may be your appointed day for mediation.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the gift of mediation.  Thank you for giving your Son as a mediator.  Forgive me for so often believing the lies of the world and following after whatever is delightful to  my eyes.  Thank you for forgiving me.  Help me to forgive others.  Thank you for reminding me that our greatest need is to resolve the dispute with you caused by our sin.  Open the eyes fo those who do not know you.  Call them to your mediation table and show them their need to mediate.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

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