Archive for the ‘Christian Living’ Category

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“NOT THE PERSON I WANT” – Mar 14

March 14, 2015

“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:14

Why do I think the very thoughts I’ve turned from? Why do I seek out the very temptations that cause me to stumble? Why do I give words to the very thoughts that I know cause hurt? Why do I embrace the very indifference I find repulsive? Why do I embody the very selfishness that denies my worship? Why am I the very person I don’t want to be? Why do I do the very things I hate?

“I do the very thing I hate”, is a confession that every follower of Christ has made. Obedience to the commands of the One we love can be a baffling mystery of cyclical inconsistency. Those who are in Christ live in between worlds. We are new creations in Christ and yet we still live in the flesh.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Romans 7:18-19

The flesh that we inhabit is bound to this sinful fallen world. Some may use this fact as an excuse to live in sin.  However, our existence does not excuse sinful disobedience but rather it should inform our obedience.

We do not follow Christ through the power of the flesh. We do not yield our will to the commands of the law by relying upon feeling and emotions.

Obedience is an act of will; Will is the result of decisions; Decisions are made either in the mind based on knowledge or from urges of the flesh.

Since the flesh can only produce sin, obedience to the Word of God must come from a mind willfully yielding to guidance of the Spirit in faith.

So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. Romans 7:26b

The Christian life should be progressively learning how to subject the feelings and emotions of a rebellious heart to the Christ-like decisions of a mind that loves God more than those fleshly urges. We have to learn how to do this. I find Proverbs helpful.

Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,  (Proverbs 2:2-4)

Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:5)

Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; (Proverb 2:9)

So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, (Proverbs 2:16)

So you will walk in the way of the good to the paths of the righteous. (Proverbs 2:20)

Proverbs shows the powerful progression of an engaged mind.

The children of God engage their minds in the wonderful search to know their Lord; praying for the Spirit to reveal insight and understanding; listening for the wisdom of God and inclining their hearts to understanding the comes only from faith.

God promises that those who seek Him in faith will find Him. They will be given the knowledge of God and understand the fear of the Lord. They will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path.

The mind will have the understanding that it needs to bend the will from the flesh. Only when an engaged mind is working on the knowledge revealed through the Spirit can it make a decision that takes the flesh away from the forbidden woman and all other enticing temptations and onto the paths of the righteous, walking in the way of the good.

Our flesh will never be inclined to love God. Therefore, stop trying to obey God in your flesh.

Love God with your mind and watch your flesh follow.

“Loving God with all our mind means that our thinking is wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things.” ~ John Piper, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God

PRAYER: Lord, you know how often I stray after the flesh.  You know how I disengage my mind to do what I don’t want to do.  Please forgive me.  Father, give me insight and understanding; make my ears attentive; incline my heart to understanding.  Help me to know you; show me yourself.  Teach me how to love and fear you.  I love you Lord; keep my feet on the path of righteousness in glorifying obedience to you.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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“PUKING OVER PURSUED GREATNESS” – Feb 11

February 11, 2015

““…whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 John 2:6

 I want to be like Tony Martin… the cyclist, not the singer.  Tony Martin is a three time world champion and an absolute monster in the individual event where cyclists race against the clock.  The individual time trial is the “race of truth” since winning depends only on a rider’s strength and endurance.

I imagine being Tony Martin in the obscurity of my basement while spinning on my trainer.

Just like Tony Martin,…

I lie low over time-trial handlebars in a sleek aero-position.
I crank out intervals in my big chain ring.
I practice the Tony Martin open mouth “air scoop” breathing method.

I am a world champion time trialer… in my basement.

The sun shone brightly on a recent Saturday with temperatures above 40 degrees F and only a slight wind.  It was the perfect opportunity to turn my Tony Martin impersonation loose on the local rural roads. I kicked gravity loose and after a short warm-up, I was flying along in the practiced aero-position of a world champion that my mind imagined me to be.

Tony Martin had positioned me such, that only an extreme craning of my neck would allow sighting any distance ahead.  I had to content myself with watching the road a mere 5 feet beyond my front tire.  An occasional glance into the distance was my only assurance that the road actually continued before me.  The problem with this approach was that my focal point was upon a road blurred with speed.

I powered through some rollers but on the ascent of the last hill I began to feel a little queasy.  I held my aero-position thinking that the exertion was causing my stomach discomfort.  At the top of the hill, I slowed my pedaling and allowed my heart rate to fall.  One cough and then another brought me out of my aero-position.  A few coughs turned into dry heaves.

What is going on?  I am about to puke.

"The Way Way Back"I had not been riding hard enough to make myself puke.  “This is ridiculous,” I thought as I tried soft pedaling between wretches.  As I sat up on my bicycle, my head swirled and my stomach gurgled.  These symptoms were all too familiar from a childhood of relegation to the backseat of a station wagon.

I had made myself motion sick.
I had nearly made myself puke over a pursuit of greatness.

My Tony Martin impersonation had backfired.  I had failed at one of the three principles of a proper time trial fit – comfort.  (The 3 Priorities of a Proper Triathlon Bike Fit)

Needless to say, I have raised my handle bars and conceded, “I am not Tony Martin; at least not today; probably not tomorrow either.” He is still my example but I just can’t do some of the things he makes look so easy.  Subsequently, I have ridden this same route in my new more comfortable position.  Even though I am not as low as before, this new position allowed me to maintain an aero-position through the majority of a ride.  The result was that I was significantly faster and I never felt like puking.

We have a plethora of examples in our lives – especially our spiritual lives.  Paul encouraged us to follow these examples.  Therefore, following the example of another more mature Christian is not a bad thing.  It is wise to learn from the experience of someone who has walked deeply in the Spirit for years.

I have a lot of spiritual heroes.  I appreciate the gift of faith that these people have demonstrated by their lives and the glory to God that they have been blessed to participate in. However, my greatest example is Jesus Christ himself.  There has never been a better example of how to live than the life of Christ.

However, what happens when we don’t
achieve the same result of our example?

I learned that I cannot hold an aero-position like Tony Martin, but that does not negate the value of his example.  I demonstrated to myself that I will experience more success by following Tony Martin’s example to the best of my ability rather than giving up completely on riding in an aero-position.  Therefore, I am not going to abandon my Tony Martin impersonation.  I am going to tweak it.  I will continue to tweak it because I know that even a tweaked Tony Martin impression will be better than doing it my own way.  However, my goal will always be the perfect impersonation.

I have seen many folks make resolutions in their spiritual lives influenced by examples from the Bible or some other exemplar example of true faith.  They were great godly resolutions.  Yet, they abandon their resolve when they discover that they just can’t get it done like they had thought.

February is the month when most resolutions are abandoned.  Often, the optimism of a new year gets crushed under the practicalities of real life and we find that we just can’t do what we had hoped.  Many of us find that the activities of those we want to emulate are just too hard to pull off.  When that happens, there is a strong tendency to give up.

long_road-aheadI posted my resolution for 2015.  I am already behind on several of them.  For one, I know that I won’t be riding like Tony Martin by August.  However, it would be silly for me to abandon my plans just because they are not working well in light of my everyday life.  Therefore, I am going to do a little tweaking and continue until I get something that works, because I know that it will be better than going back to my own way.

There may be a whole list of legitimate and illegitimate reasons for not doing what seemed so tangible in January.  Yet, it is good to remember we are on the long road of perseverance.

Just don’t give up. 
Don’t make yourself puke over a pursuit of greatness. 

Tweak what needs to be tweaked in order for you to consistently do what the Lord has drawn you to do.  Few goals are ever achieved in exactly the manner we plan.  We are all individuals with our own strengths, weaknesses, and personal commitments.  It would be unrealistic to think that a resolution will not have to be altered under the pressures of life.

Striving after the Lord is worth it.  Following Christ in our tweaked, imperfect manner will always be better than going our own way.

PRAYER: Lord, you know that I need a lot of tweaking.  Forgive me for the imperfect manner in which I strive to follow you.  Help me to follow better.  Help me to not give up on what is good for my soul.  Help me to desire you more than anything else.  Lead me in way of following you in obedience and joy.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

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ENCOURAGED TO DO – Nov 29

November 29, 2014

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” James 1:22-25

long_road-aheadAs the remaining days of adequate daylight dwindled, I abandoned running in preference to cycling. My goal of cycling over 2,000 miles in a year was within my grasp so I filled those precious post-work hours on the bike. I happily pedaled past 2,000 miles until daylight-savings snuffed out anymore evening bike rides.

However, the consequence was a complete lack of running for about a month. It is a common story for me. I will abandon running to the most insignificant of excuses. I am not a person who experiences the runner’s “high”. Therefore, a run does not hold the promise of an endorphin fix. It is just a rather uncomfortable workout.

cold run 1Since the season of outdoor cycling has passed, I have reluctantly returned to running. I am too inconsistent on the treadmill so I decided to do evening runs at a local track. In my new found dedication, I completed a couple workouts but quickly found it hard to persevere in my commitment to running in the dark and cold. I could feel all the excuses sapping my resolve. Inconsistency was once again lurking around the corner ready to devour my motivation.

A runner friend discovered my activities and began to join me. Around and around the track, we run in darkness. I hear his breath and adjust my pace to the beat of his footfalls. I run faster. My lungs burn and my legs sting but I push on just a little longer because… he is still going. These have been some of the best workouts I have had and some of the most enjoyable.

cold run 2I have enjoyed it so much that a polar vortex and snow have not kept me from the track.  I ran in 13 degree F temperatures when, in the past, threatening clouds kept me in?  The question is why?

I have read books and articles on running.
I have listened to running experts.

I know how to be a better runner.
I want to be a better runner.

I could benefit from a coach but knowledge is not my primary need. Knowledge is not what keeps me from being a better runner.

A lack of running has kept me from becoming a better runner.

My greatest need as a runner is encouragement to run – encouragement to do. I went out in 13 degree weather because someone came by my office door and said “you coming?”. It was as simple as that. I would not have persevered in doing what I need to do if it had not been for that simple encouragement.

I tell this story as an illustration of what I believe to be the Church’s primary need.  In my last blog (The Fall of the Homely Handy), I pondered how the Church might want to respond to the information age that we are currently living in.

OpenBibleWe live in a time when the internet delivers into our homes some of the greatest Spirit-inspired teaching of the centuries. We can listen to teachers from across the globe that have been powerfully gifted and called to eloquently preach the Word of God. I can easily research any theological question that might be troubling me. We can maintain a near constant hearing of the Word of God.

I asserted that in the typical Church, the majority of their activities revolve around education – presenting the Word of God to the ears of their congregation.

Yet, is that our greatest need?
Are the ears of the typical Christian suffering
from a lack of hearing the Word of God?

I believe that no Christian has the excuse of inadequate teaching. We live in a wonderful age. We can easily supplement any inadequacies that may come from the teaching of our local Church. Therefore, I don’t believe that true followers of Christ are suffering or should suffer from a lack of hearing the Word of God.

Yet, I do see a lack of doing.
I do see a lack of perseverance.
I see a lot of folks who are hearers of the word but struggle at being doers.

They know what they need to do to better follow Christ.
They want to be better followers of Christ.

I know that every Christian can benefit from Spirit-inspired teaching but I don’t believe that more teaching is the primary need of the typical believer. Hearing the word of God is not what keeps me from being a better follower of Christ. A failure to do is what keeps me from being a better follower of Christ.

Therefore, how do we become better doers?
If this is the primary need of Christians,
then how can the Church better meet this primary need?

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

I assert that the greatest need of the typical Christian is encouragement; encouragement to persevere through difficult times; encouragement to love; encouragement to good works; encouragement to DO; encouragement to take what we have heard, what we know, and to actually DO it.

The author of Hebrews is encouraging the Church to come together for the purpose of motivation – to stir one another up and encourage each other to be DOERS.

So, what might this look like in our information age?

Ironically, I suggest that we learn from the example of David Dickson in his book “The Elder and His Work”, first published in America in 1883. He provides practical advice of an elder’s call to the ministry of shepherding Christ’s flock, which is really a description of how we are to practically encourage one another to be DOERS.
Here is how I will summarize this example from the late-1800’s that I think we can learn from:
  1. TEACHERS SHOULD TEACH: PreachI am not suggesting that pastors should abandon the preaching and teaching the word of God. That would not be Biblical. Our Lord has gifted and called teachers to speak the word of God to our ears. They need to be faithful to their calling. Our local pastors have the opportunity to speak from the Word to the direct needs of their congregation. That is something that no podcast can do. In addition, I believe that teachers have a responsibility to teach the Church how to wisely and safely use the resources that we have available to us in this informational age. We know that all that is on the internet is not good. Therefore, we need to be shown where to go and how to discern the information that we might come across.
  2. SHEPHERDING SHOULD BE VALUED: shepherdI am suggesting that the shepherding of the congregation should be valued as much, if not more than, preaching and teaching in this informational age. I am arguing that the greatest need of today’s Church is for followers of Christ to become better DOERS. I believe that will be best accomplished by practical encouragement – shepherding. Therefore, local Churches should evaluate how they are doing the ministry of shepherding. They should be particular and specific in dedicating resources to this desperately needed ministry. They should be practical and organized so that people in their congregations don’t fall through the cracks and be overlooked.
  3. SHEPHERDING IS A TASK BEYOND THE PASTOR: IS4086RF-00038636-001There is no pastor that has enough time to practically shepherd a congregation. I believe that shepherding should be the primary task of the Elders. It seems that the primary task of many elders has become the purveyors of budgets and bylaws. This is where we can learn from our past and the example of David Dickson. In the 1800’s church in Scotland, the families of the congregation were divided amongst the Elders. Each elder was responsible to shepherd specific families. He regularly visited those he was shepherding. He knew them personally. He knew their struggles and trials. Therefore, he was able to give that needed word of encouragement and when necessary a word of admonition or correction that might be received. He was able to see where additional teaching would be beneficial because he knew where they were spiritually. He was able to effectively disciple which requires an involvement in people’s messy lives beyond what can be accomplished by a Sunday morning greeting. By this organizational structure and division of responsibilities, the elders were able to practically shepherd a large congregation.
  4. SHEPHERDING IS A TASK FOR EVERYONE: I have focused on elders in this discussion because I believe the Church needs to be organizedEnglish: A man helps a friend along at the 200... so that shepherding actually happens for the entire flock of Christ. However, I hope it is clear that the ministry of shepherding is something every follower of Christ can provide to each other. It is not a ministry that is reserved for the elder or the pastor of our Churches. We should all be encouragers. We all should excel at stirring each other up to love and good works. Imagine the draw of our gatherings if when we came together our primary purpose was to encourage one another. I cannot help but to think that our Churches might be closer to meeting our primary need – encouraging one another to finish the race and to persevere all the more as we see the Day draw near.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the church.  Thank you for our pastors and elders you have called to their specific ministries.  Thank you for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  That you for those who are encouragers.  Help me to be an encourager.  Help me to be an encouragement to my family and friends.  Help our churches to be places where we are encouraged to persevere.  Lord, form our churches so that all of our needs are met.  Don’t let us forget our own faces.  Give us the strength and motivation to faithfully follow you through anything.  Give us encouragers.    I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

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HEARING GOD – Oct 8

October 8, 2014

“For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said ‘Do not be afraid Paul, you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.” Acts 27:23-25

DSC_0846There is a mysteriously special spot in the US Capital Hall of Statues. We stood upon this spot as our guide crossed the crowded Hall. Tourists meandered about the Hall producing a din of assorted languages that made even close conversations difficult to hear. As our guide stood facing us from across the Hall, we could see the mouth of our guide moving but only the reverberating sound of indistinguishable voices came to our ears. Our guide moved slightly and we could see him speaking but did not hear his voice. He moved yet again and suddenly a quiet, single voice became perceptible above all the noise in our immediate vicinity.

DSC_0850We had found the acoustic sweet spot of John Quincy Adams. It is upon the historic spot where John Quincy Adams sat when this Hall was the floor of the House of Representatives that the perfect acoustical conditions have aligned to allow a voice to be heard from across the Hall. It is a fascinating anomaly of coincidence.

I am tempted to compare the voice of God to that quiet voice we heard in the Hall of Statues. I desperately desire to hear God’s voice above the din of everyday life. I am inclined to believe that I might be missing a special message because I am not in that mysteriously special spot to hear Him.

Maybe, I am not spiritual enough.
Maybe, I am not praying enough.
Maybe, I am not obedient enough.
Maybe, I am not where God wants me.

How foolish is it to believe that God’s purpose can be frustrated by our not being in the mysteriously perfect spot where all the circumstances of sanctification align for His voice to be heard?

That belief is not supported by scripture. When God wants to be heard, He will be heard.

He has made His voice heard by the obedient.
The disobedient have heard His voice.

He has made His voice heard by the redeemed.
The lost have heard His voice.

His voice has been in a whisper.
His voice has rolled with the thunder.

He has spoken through a burning bush.
He has spoken through visible angels.

Visions have carried His words.
Dreams have communicated His intent.

Scriptures teach us that God will be heard when He wants to be heard. The God of the Universe does not need the perfect alignment of circumstances or the will of man for His voice to be heard above the competing noise of this world.

Therefore, we can be assured that we are not missing anything when a special word has not come to our awareness. Equally, we can be assured that we have all that He has given us all we need for today in the Word that He has already spoke to us – the Bible..

PRAYER: Father, thank you for your Word.  Thank you for speaking to us perfectly even though we are imperfect.  That you for giving us everything that we need to follow you today.  Help me to glorify you from the place where I am today. Forgive me for thinking that I need a special word from you. Teach me obedience in the everyday. Help me to live upon the nurturiousment of your Word, the Bible.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

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Balance & Rhythm in Swimming and Life – July 1

July 1, 2014

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26

I had a great swim the other day. It was a swim that finally felt right after a week of unsatisfying attempts. I have been getting back to regular swimming. A week was lost to business travel and my post – Boise Ironman 70.3 training break had stretched out longer than originally intended, resulting in irregular pool attendance.

Swimming technique goes quickly with inactivity. The delicate balance and timing of a smooth swimming stroke can easily be lost to a few weeks without a reminder. However, it is a wonderfully meditative sensation when one finds that intricate rhythm of a smooth free-style stroke.

I found my lost free-style stroke the other day and it was wonderful.

reachThere are three basic aspects of a free-style stoke. (Just a disclaimer, I have never been coached in swimming. Everything I know about swimming, I learned on Youtube and blogs.)

The Reach: The forward arm enters the water at a point inside the shoulder line and only fully extended under the water. I like to feel the full stretch of my forward arm timed with the rotation of my torso and exit of my other arm from the water in the recovery. The reach is important because it helps keep you from sinking. Also, a long reach increases the length of your arm which gives more power to the catch and pull phase.

catch 2The Catch & Pull: The forward arm should stay fully extended for a brief moment before “catching” the water – this enhances gliding through the water. The forward arm then catches the water with the hand and the forearm. It is important not to churn the water but to “feel it”.  This is where the power in the stroke comes from. The arm accelerates throughout the stroke as you rotate your torso using the power of your core, right up to the point of exit, when the hand passes the hip.

recovery 2The Recovery: Once the arm is pushing back (when the hand has passed the elbow) the elbow begins to straighten. When the arm exits the water, the elbow immediately begins to flex again, staying high with the hand close to the body. The exit of the arm is important because it causes the rotation of the torso, which reduces drag through the water and sets up a long, stretching reach of the forward arm.  It also let’s you breath – which is important.

All the aspects of the free style stroke need to be synchronized and balanced for an efficient swimming stroke. I have read that a swimmer with deficient technique can expend 50% more energy than one using a stroke that is balanced through the various stages. Swimming is unforgiving of poor technique.

All the stages of the free-style stroke need to be in balance and in rhythm. When it happens, swimming becomes easy.

reach 2I was thinking about the Christian life as I enjoyed re-discovering the rhythm of my swimming technique. The Christian life needs to be a balance between the future, the present, and the past – all blended into a seamless rhythm of continued forward progress; otherwise known as sanctification.

The Reach (Future): We are told to set our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13). We have to stretch for this hope. When we are reaching for the hope of the Gospel, it lengthens us; we can glide through troubles and not sink into the cares of this world. In addition, a hope that is set on the full assurance of our faith corrects selfish motivations and gives power to our service and obedience in the present.

catchThe Catch & Pull (Present): The power of the Holy Spirit is manifested in the present of the Christian life. The present is where we do the work of service and obedience. We reach forward to our hope, check our motivations and then catch the opportunities of our life. The power of our daily lives comes by faithfully using our God-given strengths, being sensitive to the Spirit (feeling His presence), and then pressing into our firm foundation. The key to a powerful present is consistently pressing into the Spirit throughout our day. We need to be consciously setting our mind on the things of the Spirit from the time we wake to the moment we close our eyes to sleep. That is how we make the most of the present.

recoveryThe Recovery (Past): The Christian has to learn how to handle the past. Lingering in the past will only drag us down. Therefore, we need to exit the past cleanly – forgiving who we need to forgive; confessing what we need to confess; correcting what needs to be corrected – and then immediately get back to the Hope that lays before us. It is this quick transition from past experiences to future hope that will lengthen our time for good works in the present, which give the Spirit more opportunities to manifest His glorious power in our daily lives.

The Christian life is a wonderful blend of future, present, and past. I know how easy it is to lose that precious rhythm:

I have neglected meditating on the Hope that I have been called to.
I have churned away trying to please God with my good works in proof of my salvation.
I lingered over thoughts of the past that have drug me to a stop.

20131001-235329Throughout those periods of life, I could feel that my spiritual life was not quite right. Consistency has always brought me back to the wonderful rhythm of a life synchronized with the Spirit. Whenever I am not feeling it, I still jump into the deep water of my Lord and Savior. Taking a break from God never is to your advantage.

Our helper, the Spirit, is the one who always corrects our deficient and inefficient living. Let’s get back to living in the Spirit, for His glory, in all the aspects of our lives – past, present, and future.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for allowing my life not to feel right. Thank you for giving me your Spirit to be my helper – to teach me and correct me.  Lord, continue to work in my life.  Show me where I am out of balance.  Help me to come into rhythm with your Spirit in all aspects of my life.  Give me a heart that Hopes in you.  Teach me how to exit cleanly from my past and immediately reach out to you.  Grant me the power of your Spirit to live every moment of my life for your glory. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Photographs: Swim Channel Facebook

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NO REGERTS! – June 26

June 26, 2014

“The plan of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.  All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weights the spirit.  Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:1-3

I cannot resist a laugh at the irony implicit in a “No Regerts” tattoo.regerts-e1336608292682

The irony does not lies in an individual’s declaration of regret freedom becoming yet another regret.

I do not know of anyone who wants to live with regrets. No one starts their day with a desire to fill it with regrets. Being without regrets is not a matter of determination.  A life without regrets is a life never lived.

A statement that you will not feel sad, repentant, or disappointed about circumstances that have not worked out, the loss associated with poor decisions, or the indecision of a missed opportunity, seems naïve. It might seem possible for a twenty-nothing to think that life can be lived without regrets but as a forty-something I cannot imagine a life free of regrets.

The denial of regret simply creates a regert – regret in disguise.

Regrets are an inevitable part of the human experience. A life without regrets requires perfection. I am far from perfect and as a result my life is full of regrets.

I regret responses to criticism…victory…conflict…praise…rejection…
I regret selfish treatment of people.
I regret a failure of leadership in the Church and business.
I regret working too hard and not hard enough.
I regret misplaced trust placed in key people.
I regret starting and never finishing.
I regret never starting.
I regret not being the husband I want to be.
I regret not being the father I want to be.
I regret not being the friend I want to be.

The majority of my regrets can be traced to the sin that still dwells within me. My life is full of regrets because I am a sinner. To deny my regrets is to deny my sin. The denial of sin will only result in another regret, which makes it a regert.

used-2013-07-18-no-regerts-alkhall-sobriety-recoveryRegrets are not an emotion to deny. Regrets are a reminder of our continuing need of a savior. The acknowledgement of regrets leads us to the gospel.  I trust God; that He has a plan. I trust  He will take all that I regret and make something good out of them. I trust that there will be a day when I will see all my regrets for what they are in God’s plan.

However, that is an act of faith because I currently cannot see His plan.

Therefore, I find freedom from regrets by faith and a refusal to change them into regerts.
I glorify God in my regrets.
I have been forgiven through Christ of the sin associated with my regrets.

I praise God in my regrets.
His plan is not dependent upon my perfection.

I hope in God because of my regrets.
I look forward to the day when I will be truly free of regrets and regerts.

PRAYER: Father, you know all of my regrets.  You know all of my wanderings.  You know all of my sins of omission and commission.  Thank you for forgiving me.  Thank you for freeing me from my past and all that I regret.  Thank you for giving me hope.  Thank you for preparing a day in the future when I will truly be free of all regrets…and regerts. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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HOME – June 24

June 24, 2014

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:15-17

Adirondack Hotel room

The familiar chime from the cell phone slowly lures a reluctant mind back to awareness. A pale orange light sneaks between the voids of drawn shades to cast a dim tint to a small simple room. I squint to see the blurry view as I roll onto my back and crane my head from pillows that had failed to provide a restful sleep.

A flat screen television sits atop a cabinet across from the foot of the bed. An open suitcase with clothes strewn within sets upon a stand along the adjoining wall. I swing my gaze to the night stand at the edge of my bed. Amongst the jumble of receipts, gum package, wallet, cell phone, and pocket change, I reach for my eyeglasses.

The action of restoring my vision brings me to full awareness of my surrounding. The annoying buzz of an air conditioner; the strange fragrance of cleaning agents masking previous inhabitants, a generic interior design, a comfortable but comfortless bed, all confirm that I am in yet another unfamiliar hotel room. However, I am very excited that this is my last night, at least for this trip.

Today, I am going home.

Throughout this week-long business trip, I have met pleasant people, experienced new areas, completed successful meetings,secured future work, eaten good food, yet, I have longed for home. I have missed my wife and kids. I have missed the place where I belong. I have missed the familiar of belonging.

Airport Wait TransferThe desire for home is a powerful emotion. Many a weary traveler has made the lament at the end of a long trip of  “I just want to get home”. I wonder if our intense desire for home was given to us to draw us to something more than a place and those who love us.

Our desire for home draws us back.
Home causes us to not to be satisfied with the amenities of a journey.
Home encourages us to complete the journey to its final destination – the place we belong.

I have the propensity to seek the comfortable. I long to be satisfied and contented in my place. I am easily enticed by the amenities lining the pathways of life. All these conflicting desires could easily loosen the draw to my eternal home. Therefore, I know that I need encouragement to not be satisfied with the “cheap hotels” of this journey.

I wonder how many of the struggles of life are given to us as encouragements to continue in that journey; to roust us from false contentment or nudge us from debilitating disappointment.

Any traveler who loses sight of home will be lost.

When I travel, I am thinking of my home. I talk with my wife and kids at night. I desire to stay connected to all that is transpiring while I am gone. I plan my route of return. I long for the ease of my household, the comfort of my bed, the view from my porch, and the belonging of family.

Likewise, the journeying Christian should be equally preoccupied by their thoughts of home.

We are not of this world. We are traveling through it to our eternal home. When we set our mind on the things of the Spirit, we are setting our mind on Home. We are relishing the intense desire for home that was given to us in order to draw us to the place of our inheritance and the One who loves us.

The draw of the Spirit is the source of the lament of many a weary traveler explaining “I just want to get home”. May we be grateful for that lament because it keeps us moving to the Hope that will never disappoint.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for calling me Home.  Thank you for reminding me that this world has nothing for me in comparison to you. Keep me from settling on the amenities of this journey.  Keep me moving toward you.  Draw me Home.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen (This is Home – Switchfoot)

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