Posts Tagged ‘Corinth’


“PACK RIDING” – June 9

June 9, 2013

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful.  “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.  Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”  1 Corinthians 10:23-24

981002_10201434224324276_965735367_oYesterday, I completed my first century bicycle ride, the Bob LeBow Bike Tour.  I had two different experiences on this ride.  I rode in a group for the first 60 miles and finished the last 45 miles on my own.  Riding in a group is better.

When we started the ride in the morning, we had a head wind.  It was the sort of wind that deafens your ears and steals any conversation from among the riders.  A head wind forces you to push into the pedals without a respite.  This head wind was not an encouraging sign for someone like me who was concerned about the energy requirements of a ride with a distance I have never known.

Fortunately, I fell in with a pack of riders.  Actually, they caught me.  They were riding faster than I had intended to ride.  However, the sweet relief that came as I was enveloped by this group gave me a huge incentive to cling within them.  We had a group of about 10-15 riders.  This amount of riders provides an intoxicating buffer from the wind.  The riders at the front have to work hard to break the wind but those in the back get the benefit of being pulled along.  They say that by riding in a group you can save as much as 20% of  your energy.  I believe it and I loved it.  I did all that I could to stay with this group.

The best way for a group like ours to maintain a strong pace is for everyone to take a turn at the front of the pack.  This keeps everyone as fresh as possible.  It allows the stronger riders a chance to rest without the group as a whole slowing down.  There is no benefit to riding in a pack if the riders are seeking their own good and not willing to work together.

Therefore, I took my turn at the front on a couple of occasions.  I tucked down onto my aero-bars and pushed into the wind and worked to maintain a consistent pace.  I could see the shadows of the other riders just off my back wheel as they caught my streamline.  As I tired, a rider from the back would come alongside with the pack forming around them and I would slip back into the groups streamline and get my chance to recover.

This works wonderfully well as long as the leader is setting a pace that the pack is willing to match.  I took the lead on one occasion and pressed into the wind.  I thought that I was doing a good job until I noticed that there were no shadows shadowing me.  I listened and heard only the hum of my own chain and tires.  When I glanced back, I realized that I had dropped the group.  That is not what I had intended.  I knew that I was going to need that group to make the whole ride.  I wanted that group for the rest that lay within it.  It was only a matter of time before they would catch me once again, anyways.  There was no purpose to dropping them.

Dropping them had proven to be a waste of energy.  I was disappointed in the fact that I had been working hard and no other rider had benefited from the effort.  That was not the way it was supposed to work.  The group as a whole had expended more energy because I had set a pace that was beyond what the other riders were willing to follow.  So, I slowed my paced and let them envelop me once again.  I knew that my good lay within the good of those other riders.

This experience made me think of how we, Christians, are supposed to live together.  I often hear a brother or sister in Christ lamenting about the Church or other believers.  They have a sense of being stifled by what they call the traditional church.  They feel as if their freedoms in Christ are being stolen by the judgmentalism of those within Christian circles.

The story is often the same.  They end up pulling away and isolating themselves from other believers.  They pursue their freedoms in Christ for their own good, mostly on their own.  We can pursue the freedoms we have in Christ in a manner that builds up no one else.  We can pursue our faith in a manner that is of no benefit to our neighbor.

We can work hard in our faith just like when I was riding ahead of the pack but to what avail?  We should want our faith to build up others.  We should want our strength to be providing a respite for others and pulling them along.  We should be seeking not only our own good, but the good of our neighbors.

We as the body of Christ will go to greater depths and be more relevant and effective if we are working together.  We can be used in amazing ways when we are willing to work for the good of others.  Ultimately, God is glorified when we are willing to sacrifice some of our freedoms in Christ for the well being and good of our fellow heirs with Christ.

Are you willing to take your turn and pull your neighbor along for their good and without thinking about your own good?

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for your Church and my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  Forgive me for allowing myself to be frustrated by them.  Forgive me for so often thinking about my self first and my neighbor second.  Father, help me to use my strengths that are a gift from you in a way that is good for others.  I want to be building up.  Lord, keep me from working in a manner that tears down or is the avail of no one else.  Help me to use the freedoms that you have given me in Christ in the most useful ways, even if that means sacrificing them for the good of my weaker brothers and sisters.  Help me to live to your glory.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Note: I am the rider in the center of the photograph with the shirt sleeve that is black on top and red below. Just a little proof that I was there.



June 7, 2013

“But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.  The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.”  1 Corinthians 7:2-3

wedding in church

wedding in church (Photo credit: Brian’s Tree)

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God, and in the presence of this company, to unite this groom and this bride in holy matrimony. Marriage was ordained by God in Eden and confirmed in Cana of Galilee by the presence of the Lord Himself, and is declared by the inspired Apostle Paul to be honorable among all men. It is therefore, not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, soberly and in the fear of God.  Whereas, it would be good for these two to remain single as Paul was single, they have determined it is better for them to marry because they can no longer exercise self-control.

These two are inflamed with a passion for one another that is beyond their self-control to resist the temptation of sexual immorality.  Therefore, this groom and this bride come before us to enter into this concession we call marriage as a safeguard against the temptations of Satan due to their lack of self-control.  It is fitting, therefore, that we should on this occasion, begin by asking God’s blessing on this marriage service. Let us pray.

I have never been to a wedding ceremony that started out this way but most adults understand the practical advice that Paul is giving us.  We need to build into our lives safeguards to help us fight temptations in areas where we know we are weak.  One of the roles of marriage is to provide an appropriate avenue for inflamed passions.  An important role of marriage is sexual purity.

I realize that there are a lot of couples who enter into marriage without sexual purity being one of the reasons.  There are a lot of wonderful blessings and reasons God has given us the institution of marriage.  However, it is a mistake for couples to forget about this important and practical function of marriage that safeguards both the husband and wife from sexual temptation.

There have been countless examples of marriages and families being shattered by a spouse who sought the satisfaction of their passions beyond the bounds of marriage.  The need for self-control never subsides.  For most, the fact that they are married is an acknowledgement to their lack of self-control.  The marriage bed is part of the discipline that marriage people should use to keep their bodies under control.

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.  1 Corinthians 9:27

It is a disgrace, the number of ministries and witnesses that have been damaged due to Christians failing to discipline their bodies and keep them under control.  This is not limited to the marriage bed.  A married couple is a team.  A man and wife should be striving together in all aspects of their lives to assist each other in disciplining their bodies to the glory of God.

If one lacks self control of their tongue, the other should help them in keeping it shut.

If one lacks self control regarding a substance, the other should give up their freedom to help them beat that addiction.

If one lacks self control in overeating, the other should limit their self to help them.

If one lacks self control in their responsibilities, the other should encourage them not to be a sluggard.

If one lacks self control of their anxieties, the other should speak the truths of God’s promises.

San FranMarried couples who are walking together in faith have a huge advantage in the disciplining of their bodies.  We all have our weak areas.  A spouse should know their partner’s weaknesses.  A loving spouse will want to help their partner have victory over their particular weakness.

I want my wife to run her race of faith well.  I want her to finish well.  I want her to receive the prize.  Therefore, I am committed to helping her.  She wants me to help.  It is an expression of my love for her.  She doesn’t need help with her strengths.  She needs help with her weaknesses.  I need help with my weaknesses.  I need her to help me in those areas of my live where my self control is lowest.  I want her to help me.

We show each other love by supporting each other in our respective weaknesses in order that we will both be better at disciplining our bodies as we run our race of faith.

May our marriages be all that they were intended to be including a safe haven for bodies which are control impaired.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for my wife.  Thank you for giving me a person who loves me and wants to help me follow you better.  Thank you for giving me a person who is committed to my well-being.  Father, may your blessing pour out on her.  May your face shine upon her.  May your Spirit fill her and abound in her.  Lord, help me to help her.  Give me wisdom in how I can practically support her in her weaknesses and may you give her the desire to help me in my weaknesses.   Father, we want to give you all the glory in our marriage.  We want to run well as a couple and as individuals.  We want to finish well.  Lord, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.



June 4, 2013

“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.  I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it.”  1 Corinthians 3:1-2

Pace is difficult to gauge.

SwimmingIt is particularly difficult to gauge in swimming.  The problem is associated with being unable to see your accumulating time.  I never know my time until the last stroke of my set is finished.  Many times I have anxiously touched the end of the pool in anticipation of a new personal record (PR).  My swim felt great.  I felt faster.  The water just glided past me as I slipped through its restraints.  During those sets, I have day dreamed of race days in the near future; days when the pace I was swimming would keep me from being dropped by the real triathletes.  I tickled the thoughts of running into a transition area with most of the bikes still on their rakes because my swim was that good.

Those dreams of grandeur have been dashed more than once by the reality of my watch.  I get to my self-imposed finish line and stare down at my watch through fogging goggles.  That can’t be right.  I pull the goggles off to see better but that does not change the numbers.  I felt so much faster but my time is about the same as always.  I wonder if I lost count of my laps.  Maybe, I swam a couple extra laps without knowing it.  I make excuses for all my little lapses along the way.  Five seconds here and there to check my lap counter.  A three-second pause to spit out a gulp of water.  Two seconds for slipping on a turn.  None of my excuses add up to much time.  I am not as far along as my senses had convinced me.  The timer does not lie. Progress cannot be determined based on feelings.

Progress needs a gauge.

I have had another day dream.  I have wondered what Paul would have taught those immature Christians of his time.  I want to know the solid food that he held back because they were not ready for anything more than milk.  I am so disappointed in those early Christians for not staying on pace in their sanctification because they deprived us all of Paul’s teaching.

I have tickled the thoughts of listening to Paul teach the secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory (1 Cor. 2:7).  How wonderful would that be?  Just imagining this solid food of God that Paul could teach us.  I feel like I am ready for that solid food.  I feel like my pace of sanctification has been enough to keep from being dropped by the really mature believers.  I imagine that I am sufficiently mature to be prepared for the advanced class that Paul denied those early Christians.

However, Paul told those early Christians that they were not ready for the deeper things of God because they were still of the flesh.

For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?  (1 Cor. 3:3)

It is when I stop for a moment and really examine myself that I am all too aware of the myriad of actions in my daily life that are all too human.  I like to think of myself as mature and I know that I am in comparison to some.  However, I don’t know if I am all that much more mature than those early Christians.  I realize that the Church in Corinth had some huge problems but the Church in America has just as significant of problems.  We need to be very careful not to allow our feelings to be the metric of our sanctification.  The progress of our faith needs a gauge.  We are told to examine ourselves but that examination is not measured in comparison to those around us.

Spiritual progress is gauged by the scriptures. 

We need to periodically look at our lives in the reality of scripture to see how we are doing.  Is there progress?  Is the fruit of the Spirit more evident in your life?  Are you desiring God more?  Spiritual maturity is not measured by days on a calendar.  It is measured by the Spirit of God continually transforming us into the image of Christ.  Are you more Christ-like than you were a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago?  If you have been keeping pace in your faith, you should see a difference.

We need to periodically make an assessment of where we are and then get back to work.  This is where good pace-setters are helpful.  Most of us will dog-it when we are on our own.  It is so helpful to have someone more mature in their faith help us by setting a spiritual pace that is more aggressive than what we would have set on our own.  Now, we are not gauging ourselves based on this pace-setter but we are using them to see what is possible.

We will find ourselves in a lot of different situations throughout our lives.


swimming (Photo credit: Jim Bahn)

Swimming – In the group I swim with, I am the pace-setter.  The other guys are not as fast in the water so they are using me to push themselves.  They don’t like to be lapped.  So, they pick-up their pace when I am swimming beside them.  They end up going much faster.  I end up going faster because I don’t want them to catch me and I want them to get better.  I end up swimming faster when I am setting the pace.  It is the same in a spiritual sense.  There will be times when people are watching us and determining what spiritual maturity looks like based on our faith.  We have a responsibility to be setting a scriptural pace for them because they are imitating us.

English: Military cyclists ride in a pace line...

Biking – In the group I cycle with, I am not the pace-setter.  There is one guy who is much faster and stronger on the bike than I am.  He can keep a pace on flat stretches that exhaust me.  He can accelerate up hills when I am down-shifting.  He sets the pace for me.  I work much harder when I am trying to cling to the back of his tire.  He shows me that I can get a lot better.  He encourages me to want to get better.  We need people like that in our spiritual lives.  We need people to show us that we can go deeper with our Lord.  We need those people who will challenge pace complacency in our lives.  We need flesh and blood examples in our lives that will encourage us to go harder after our Lord.

so [alone]

so [alone] (Photo credit: Wsobchak)

Running – I run alone.  This is the hardest of triathlon disciplines for me because I have no one to train with me.  I run my routes in solitude; alone with my watch.  There is one stretch where I run into the sun, that is about two miles long and I can see it from one end to the other.  It can be a discouragingly endless section.  I have a horrible time keeping pace on this section.  I have no one pulling me along.  I have no one lapping at my heels to spur me on.  This is when I pull the visor of my hat down.  I look about twenty feet in front of me and I just run into the sun.  I check my watch a lot more frequently.  I count the number of strides in 15 seconds; all to help me keep pace when I am all alone.  There will be times in our Christian walk when we will be alone.  We won’t have a good pace-setter and no one is setting the pace off of us or it seems that way.  It is easy to start dogging-it.  It is easy to lose the pace of our sanctification when we feel that we are alone.  This is when we need to dive into the scriptures even more.  Paul told us to imitate him (1 Cor. 4:16); we are to be imitators of Christ.  When we are alone we need our gauge even more.  When we feel like we are all alone, we need to just keep walking into the Son and checking ourselves much more frequently with the scriptures to make sure that we are on pace.

I want to stay on pace in my faith.  I want the solid food that is given to the spiritually mature.  I want to run the race of this life well, to the glory of God.

Let’s see if we can pick up the pace a bit.

PRAYER: Lord, I don’t want to be an infant in Christ.  I want to being maturing in you.  I want to know you more.  Yet, I know that there is so much of me that is still tangled up in the web of my flesh.  Father, please continue to free me of my sin.  Continue to transform me more into you.  Lord, give me pace-setters in my life to encourage me; allow me to be a pace-setter for others.  Help me to be an example that is worthy of being imitated.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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