Archive for the ‘1 Timothy’ 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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I STILL HAVE A DREAM – Dec 27

December 27, 2014

“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:10

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior gave, in my estimation, one of the great political speeches of American history. On that day, he encapsulated the purpose and vision of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s in a mere 17 minutes.

He encouraged the nation to hope.

He showed the nation that there was something worth dreaming for.

He reminded the nation of the injustice that the black community was suffering.

He elicited our founding principles “that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable Rights of  Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ and asserted that America had defaulted on its promise of  “the riches of freedom and the security of justice”.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior had a dream. It is a dream that I share with him.

“…that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

“… that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

“… that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”

“… that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

“… that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

“… that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” I share his dream!

~ Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr.; I have a Dream

I was not alive when Dr. King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to cast this dream to America. Yet, his vision has been my adult hope for the race relations of United States.

Therefore, I have deeply despaired over the images that have appeared on my television screen during 2014. I have witnessed the violence of demonstrations in Ferguson, New York and across the country. I have been repulsed by the injustice of rampaging demonstrators assaulting and destroying property in the justification of injustice.

I read this morning of the wakes for the New York police officers killed in retribution for the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

What have we come to?

Dr. King appealed to the civil rights movement:

In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

I feel my hope for freedom and the security of justice from 1963 being lost in the wrongful deeds, bitterness and hatred of 2014. What has happened to the high plane of dignity and discipline? Where are the majestic heights of Dr. King’s “soul force”?

Has the reality of life killed the dream we’ve dreamed?

I have been reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. So, my thoughts have returned to the injustice of his creation in order to make sense of our current reality. I wonder if Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of a dream lost to a horrible and unjust world fits the hopelessness of many engaged in the protests.

Are there dreams that cannot be?
Are there storms that we cannot weather?

It seems to me that the interior despair of Jean Valjean described by Hugo so many years ago is the source of the hatred and bitterness behind what we have seen this last year.

He (Valjean) asked himself whether human society could have the right to force its members to suffer equally in one case for its own unreasonable lack of foresight, and in the other case for its pitiless foresight; and to seize a poor man forever between a defect and an excess, a default of work and an excess of punishment.

Whether it was not outrageous for society to treat thus precisely those of its members who were the least well endowed in the division of goods made by chance, and consequently the most deserving of consideration.

These questions put and answered, he judged society and condemned it.

He condemned it to his hatred.

He made it responsible for the fate which he was suffering, and he said to himself that it might be that one day he should not hesitate to call it to account….

Anger may be both foolish and absurd; one can be irritated wrongfully; one is exasperated only when there is some show of right on one’s side at bottom. Jean Valjean felt himself exasperated…

From suffering to suffering, he had gradually arrived at the conviction that life is a war; and that in this war he was the conquered. He had no other weapon than his hate. He resolved to whet it in the galleys and to bear it away with him when he departed.

Les-Mis-ValjeanI have seen much exasperation this last year. It appears to be an exasperation cloaked in hate, manifested in hopelessness, waging a losing societal war by burning down its own communities. It is an exasperation that appears to condemn the American dream in hatred for being a dream that cannot be.

This is my conclusion because I do not believe that violence springs forth from the high plane of dignity and discipline or the majestic height of Dr. King’s “soul force”.

Are there dreams that cannot be?
Are there storms that we cannot weather?

Should we weep the loss of Dr. King’s dream
to the realities of a cruel, inequitable and unjust world?

I do believe that those in the poverty of black communities do not have the same trust in their security of justice that I know. I do believe that I have been endowed with a freedom of opportunity by the “chance” of my birth that most in poverty will never know.

I also believe that most of those subjected to this justice system are there, just as Jean Valjean, as a result of wrongful acts of their own making. I believe that the ladder rungs of the American dream reach down to all levels of poverty, allowing anyone with the will to climb the freedom to rise above their condition and escape from a culture of despair.

I do not have the answer to our racial problems of 2014. I do not believe that the answer is in more legislation and laws.

I believe that the answer is in redemption.

Les Miserable is a story of redemption.

Dr. King’s dream is a vision of redemption.

Redeeming our society into something better than it has ever been; a society where blacks and whites really will join hands as brothers and sisters. We need each other. Our freedom, blacks and whites, are inextricably linked.

True redemption is what our country needs.

A voice cries: In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.  (Isaiah 40:3-5)

I still have a dream but my hope is personal redemption of those who are suffering. My hope is that they will be freed from their despair, bitterness, and hatred by the only source that I know is capable of the monumental task – Jesus Christ. Through Christ, all things are possible.

What we need are voices crying into the wilderness of the black communities saying “prepare the way of the Lord”.

We need voices condemning the injustices against blacks.

Equally, we need voices condemning wrongful deeds and physical violence; condemning those who seek to satisfy their thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We need voices calling the struggle against injustice to the high plane of dignity and discipline.

We need voices to call us to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

That is when our society will begin to take its next redemptive steps on the road toward racial harmony.

Therefore, in the words of Dr. King:

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his &qu...

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair,
I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow,
I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

PRAYER: Father, heal our land.  Cure us from our violence and hatred.  Remove our bitterness and despair.  Give us hope.  A hope that will not disappoint.  A hope set upon you, the living God, who is the Savior of all people.  Lord, send us leaders who will lead us in righteousness and unity.   Give them voices to call us from the wilderness of  enmity.  Father, bring forgiveness and understanding to our country.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE DAY FOR MEDIATION – August 5

August 5, 2014

“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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“1,000 CRANES & A DINOSAUR” – August 22

August 22, 2013

““…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 for the life to come.”  1 Timothy 4:7b-8

Our little county fair has come and gone.  It is our signal that the end of summer lurks around the corner.  Our fair has retained its small country feel, being comprised of barns filled with 4-H and FFA animals, exhibits from names that I recognize of art, crafts, food, produce, businesses, a rodeo with local cowboys, and of course lots of fair food.

This quaint nature has a tenuous feeling as if it is in danger of being swept into the annals of history.  A year ago, I had walked through the Arts and Craft building to peruse the exhibits and was disappointed in the meager showing.  “More people should be entering exhibits”, was my thought.  My realization was that I had never entered anything in the fair.

Therefore, I decided that I would make something to enter.  This was daunting for someone who has never considered himself artistic or crafty.  As a result, I did not tell anyone what I had in mind.  I felt that it was likely that I would fail so I did not want any expectations.  My goal was simply to make something interesting that would occupy some space, without being an embarrassment.

DSC_0204My entry in the fair was “1,000 Cranes and a Dinosaur”.  I folded origami cranes during meetings and telephone calls for months.  My daughter and I suspended them with fishing line from a light fixture grate for three evenings prior to the fair.  For added enjoyment, I hid one origami dinosaur, same color and size as the cranes, amidst the flock.

My hope was for a blue ribbon.  Imagine my surprise, when I actually won “Best in Show”?

The response to my little foray into the arts and craft world has been overwhelmingly positive.  However, there have been some interesting responses.  A few people questioned why I  would spend so much time folding cranes as if I had wasted my efforts.  Others speculated that I must have been really been bored.  I was even told that it was weird.

DSC_0028Often, the reasons for why we do what we do will never get told.  I folded all the cranes from paper that had been thrown in my office’s recycle bin.  As I folded those cranes, I was reminded how Christ saves us from destruction and transforms us into a new creation.  I suspended the cranes to appear as if they were flying up, which reminded me of our progressive sanctification.  The dinosaur was a reminder to me of the Spirit of God, who is with us on our journey, sometimes hard to find, and some think is a myth or a creation from a bygone era.

Those are some of the thoughts that I had in my little creation that the majority of those who saw it will never know.  What is important is that I know the reasons why I did what I did.

1081742_10201037349409912_986638358_nWe are encouraged to train ourselves for godliness.  Godliness will be exhibited to others.  The response to our godliness will not be understood by everyone.  Often, you will never get the opportunity to explain why you do what you do or why you don’t do other things.  The reaction of some will be positive but there probably will be some that are negative without understanding your intentions.

The important aspect for all of us is that we understand why we are training ourselves in godliness.  We are training ourselves in godliness for the value of the promise it holds in this present life and also for the life to come.

Let’s be intentional about our spiritual training with the purpose of winning “Best in Show” from the only judge who matters, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

PRAYER: Lord, you know how easily I am distracted from my training.  You know how I often forget why I am doing what I am doing.  You know how often I value other people’s opinion too much.  Forgive me for losing sight of my purpose and not being intentional in my life.  Lord, I need your help in my spiritual training.  I know the value that you give through godliness.  I desire all that you have promised.  I want my faith to be on display for your glory.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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SURVIVING SLIPPERY ROADS – Jan. 25

January 25, 2013

“This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.  By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith…” 1 Timothy 1:18-19

Icy Roads, Take Me HomeWe have experienced a prolonged inversion that has kept the temperature from surpassing 10 degrees F.  Then a storm blew through our area.  I had hoped that the storm-front would provide a little relief from cold temperatures by acting as an atmospheric blender. Unfortunately, the storm was like a fondant that encrusted our world in ice.

That made my commute into work an adventure.

I realized that the roads were bad when my greeting to the county highway was a car trunk awkwardly peeking out from the opposite shoulder of the road.  I am still questioning the wisdom of my decision not to turn around at that moment and head back to the safety of my home.  However, I did not turn around.  Rather, I put my pickup in four-wheel drive and cautiously pressed forward into a white landscape of questionable decision-making.

The road had my full attention on this morning; very excessive depression of the accelerator told me that I was traveling on ice.  There was no day-dreaming, working on memory verses, changing radio stations, or checking texts (which I would never do anyway). The road would periodically check if I was paying attention by giving my nerves a little jolt.  The road would give a slight tug on the steering wheel, followed by a strange floating sensation, followed by another slight jerk as the tires grab what little traction was available.

I don’t like that feeling.  I don’t like what that immediate shot of adrenaline does to me.  It is an electric pulse down the spine as your muscles all try to contract in an instant. It makes you momentarily wonder whether your flight response may have gone too far.

It was amazing how quickly my foot would unconsciously lift off of the accelerator.  I didn’t even have to think about it.  I was equally amazed at the unconscious resistance to placing my foot on the brake or jerking my arms to compensate for a slight misdirection.  I have learned from experience that either of those actions will immediately put me in a place I don’t want to be – the ditch.  It took all my experience of driving on icy roads to make it into work yesterday.  I made it but I don’t think it was the smartest decision that I could have made.   When you think about the consequences, it just wasn’t worth it.

This experience of creeping along dangerously slick roadways made me contemplate the equally dangerous and slick paths of our spiritual lives.  Most of the time, there is a decision before venturing down a particular path.  We will stand at a cross-roads and make a conscious decision to proceed with an activity or a relationship that has inherent dangers to our souls.

dentro al fosso - into the ditch

dentro al fosso – into the ditch (Photo credit: Uberto)

Is it wise to proceed down those roads?

Do you have the experience to navigate those slick pathways without putting your faith in the ditch?

Those are good questions to ask before you proceed.  I remember my first couple of years out of high school.  I was working full-time in a cabinet shop and going to a community college in the evenings.  It was my intention to take all my under division classes at the community college before transferring to the university so I needed to take some humanities classes.  At the time, my cousin was taking a philosophy class.  I could see that those classes represented a slippery road for me.  I decided that I was not ready for that experience and took some humanities classes where I felt I had better footing.

Subsequently, I did take several philosophy classes as part of my education and I am glad that I waited.  From my experience, the philosophy departments of the universities that I attended were dominated by professors who were more evangelists for their secular humanist beliefs than professors, but that is not limited to philosophy departments.  I have sat through classes in philosophy, biology, geology, and even economics where the professors were proselytizing their beliefs in a direct assault on my faith with a blatantly one-sided presentation – people of faith are ignorant.

Those were some slippery roads for me.  However, it was an experience that made my faith stronger.  I am very glad I took those classes but the timing needed to be right.  I needed my faith to be sufficiently mature so that my faith grew on those slick roads rather than put me in the ditch.  I did not have that maturity when I first got out of high school.  I praise God that He showed that to me at the time.

Car Crash - 1I have watched many a person put their faith in the ditch on similar slippery roads.  I have had theological discussions with folks who are tied into intellectual knots.  I wonder what slippery road caused their faith to land in a ditch without them even knowing it.  I have known brothers and sisters in Christ who have had a slippery road result in great detours in their sanctification.

I think that it happens more than we realize but it is not inevitable.

My experience is that pride and foolishness are the main reasons for the times that I have found my vehicle and my faith in a ditch.  Timothy was told to hold onto his faith.  There are many folks who are not holding onto their faith and I have been one of them.  I have over-estimated my maturity and I have under-valued my faith.  For too many, the implications to their faith is not even a consideration in their decision-making:

What is taking this job going to do for my faith?

What is going to this school going to do for my faith?

What is this relationship going to do for my faith?

What is this hobby going to do for my faith?

When we send our kids off, what are we allowing their young faith to be subjected to? 

The reality is that many don’t want their decisions to weigh the implications on their faith or their kids’  faith because their “good conscience” is already pushing them against it.  How many times have you pushed forward with something that you knew wasn’t good for you or your kids?  I have made decisions against my own “good conscience” where I was not valuing my faith, and it resulted in having to be dug out of a ditch.  It never works out well.

A part of navigating the treacherous roads of this life is assessing the ones you even need to be on.  All of the roads don’t have to be traveled.  Like a good general who picks his battles, the wise followers of Christ will carefully pick the roads they choose to travel.  There will be some roads we travel where we don’t have a choice but even then there are decisions we can make that will make those roads safer to our souls.  We need to humbly evaluate the conditions when we come to those forks in our spiritual paths.  We need to accurately assess our own experience and maturity before we blindly push forward onto roads that we are likely to lose hold of our most valuable treasure – the sanctification of our faith.  It is OK to say, “I am not ready for that.” It is wise to build a support team around yourself to keep you on the narrow road or to pull you back if you start sliding away.

Those decisions require you to acknowledge that you have not arrived, which is humility.  We all could use more humility.  Humility would have kept me from unnecessarily traveling dangerous roads to make it into work.  Humility would have kept me from taking paths that have rocked my faith.  Humility acknowledges who we are and the importance of our faith.  We must maintain the mindset of holding onto our faith, which makes our faith a player in all of our decision-making.

There is nothing in this world that we need to fear but that doesn’t mean we should act foolishly.  Safe travels my friends.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for protecting me from my own bad decision.  Thank you for placing my feet back on a sure foundation after I have so casually treated my faith.   Father, you are my all in all.  Give me wisdom and discernment to assess the roads ahead.  May the holding onto my faith be always at the forefront of my mind.  Father, keep me from making a shipwreck of my faith; keep me from putting my faith in the ditch.  Amen

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EATING STALE CHIPS- Dec. 28th

December 28, 2012

“Practice these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:15-16

I have a very special purpose in my family.  I eat things.  In particular, I eat old things and not the things that get better with age.  I eat the things that get worse with age; much worse.

TimothyI am the alternative to a dog or the garbage disposal.  I don’t know how many times that I have been told, “You need to eat that before it goes bad.”  We all know that the demarcation of “going bad” is a very subjective one.  However, pushing that line is a risk my wife is willing to take because, heaven forbid, we ever throw anything out.

Therefore, we all play our roles.  My wife tells me to eat something in the back of the refrigerator; I dutifully pull it out and ask her to smell it. She has a better sense than I do for the decaying state of organic matter.  If she gives it the sniff of approval, then down the hatch it goes. My role is fulfilled and my immune system bolstered.

I have come to accept my role without much thought or consideration.  I have even raised my son in my footsteps.  I now actually have to fight for the scraps.  There is no crumb in the bottom of the bag that doesn’t get sucked out.  There is no quarter of a sandwich that doesn’t get consumed.  There is no drop of questionable milk that ever goes down the drain. No ancient casserole ever need fear the landfill in our home.  I have become so accustomed to eating things that it has become second nature.

That is not necessarily a good thing.

The other day I was vacuuming in our basement. My son had been down there, eating and playing video games, and had left a mess. Normally, the cleaning would be his responsibility you make the mess, you clean the mess.  However, company was on the way so time was critical and teenagers tend to move like they’re in molasses while cleaning.

Anyway, I was vacuuming and came upon a chip. Without thinking, I picked up the chip, examined it, popped it in my mouth and continued my vacuuming, chewing away, without a second thought.  As I chewed my little snack, I realized that the wonderfully processed and artificial flavor in my mouth was actually one of my favorite chips. I love those chips, except I couldn’t remember the last time we had those; It had to have been quite a while – at least a month.

Original flavor Sun Chips in the bag

Original flavor Sun Chips in the bag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had a month old chip, that had been hiding away in the crevasse of the couch, in my mouth!  What to do?  It was then that I became aware of the staleness of my little morsel; not very pleasant after all.  What to do?  I did the only reasonable thing – I swallowed; I was committed at that point; I had more vacuuming to do; there was no place to spit it out; let’s face it – I have eaten worse. So, I swallowed. My second nature of eating things has not been good for me.  I had popped something in my mouth that I would normally have refused to eat.  Yet, I ate it – I even swallowed it. I have concluded that eating old things is not a good habit.

We need to be very careful of what we allow to become second nature throughout our lives.  Our habits and normal practices can become so routine that we will do them without thinking.  They become second nature.  That is fine if the practices are good for our soul.  It is very bad if the practices are of this world.

This is why we are to make a practice of training ourselves in godliness, setting our hope on the living God; devoting ourselves to scripture reading, exhortation, and teachings.  The habits that we create in life come from what we repeatedly do.  What we repeatedly do is what we become.  We can either create good habits or bad ones; both will be equally hard to break.

Consider how much of the things of the Spirit that you consume in relation to the things of the world.  What habits are you allowing to form?

 “Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.” (Samuel Smiles)

Let’s keep a close watch on ourselves so that we form habits that will keep us from inadvertently consuming the stale chips of this world.

PRAYER: Father, you know all of my bad habits.  Thank you for your forgiveness, mercy, and patience.  Thank you for breaking many of my bad habits through the power of you Spirit.  Lord, continue that work in me.  Show me those areas in my life where my second nature does not lead me to your righteousness. Show me those areas where I am still clinging to the flesh.  Father, I desire to walk in your Spirit in all areas of my life so that the fruit of your Spirit may be abundant throughout my life for your glory.   Amen

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