Posts Tagged ‘Truth’

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“ADVENTUROUS PERSEVERANCE” – Feb. 17

February 17, 2020

“As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.” 2 Thess. 3:13

person pointing at black and gray film camera near macbook pro

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An adventure, by definition, is the unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity. My wife and I embarked on an activity at the beginning of the year that is not unusual nor hazardous. Yet, adventure seems it’s most earnest title. The title might need to be categorized in order to do it justice. The adventure is more accurately described as an adventure of the mind. While still not unusual, it seems a little mentally hazardous to our self-esteem.

We have become rebels in the Code Red cult of weight loss. This particular cult is exemplified by specific rules; drink your water, get your sleep, eat real food, no snacking, and be done eating by 6:30 PM. Oh, and no sugar!

Our lives have been transformed due to this weight loss adventure. The adventure excitement emanates from when it is working, and swings to discouragement when it does not. One becomes a bit captive to the scale as rebels weigh every day. There is the adventurous excitement of fitting clothing long banished to the museum of “What I Once Was”. Then, there is the hazards of the plateaus of complete rule obedience yet the scale does not display equitable obedience.

These unusually hazardous circumstances baffles the mental resolve of any weight loss adventurer.

assorted map pieces

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This morning my scale sent me into the treacherous waters of uncertainty and questionable resolve. I had done everything right, earning the anticipation of celebrating seeing digits that I have not observed for 2 years. I don’t know why I create weight memorials in categories of 10, but I do. I excitedly anticipated the proclamation that I have once again entered into the 180’s weight class. For me, that can be 189.9 pounds. It simply means that I no longer will see a 1 and a 9 preceding the stubborn pounds that I am incrementally assaulting.

I have been on the frustrating plateau of the 190’s for a month and a half. Yesterday, the plateau of the 190’s was assaulted with monumental resolve and certainty. My morning  started with a chest and back workout of push-ups and pull-ups and ab-ups. Throughout the day, the rules of Code Red were followed like a good rebel religious zealot. The pincer maneuver, to ensure the success of this full assault, was a long bike ride augmented by the vigor of it being a windy day.

The assault had all the elements needed for a celebratory victory over the obstinate 190’s. Except, it didn’t. This morning arose with all the hope of a goal achieved only to be dashed by the reality of a 1.6-pound gain. Rather than basking in the celebratory light of realization, I find myself in the hazardous gloom of reality. Sometimes, when you do everything right, it simply doesn’t work out as planned and we rarely know the reason.

Expectation can be a hazardous adventure. Short-term expectations are the most hazardous. Perseverance characterizes the route through the hazardous barriers of unrealized expectations. One must trust the process, otherwise, hands flung-up in resignation will become the anthem of all our adventures.

Perseverance is essential for all adventurous endeavors; athletic, academic, career, relational, and spiritual. Perseverance is critical in the spiritual life of a Christian. Particularly, when we are residents in a nebulous plateau of spiritual doldrums. One might be doing everything right. One might make great assaults upon a goal with certain expectations only to experience regression and disappointment.

These are the times to trust the process. These are the times to trust the Perfecter.

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1b-2a

Too often, we get fixated on the wrong things, just like my fixation with a number on a scale. My goal is not a number on a scale. My goal is to reduce the fat on my body. I want to be fit for all the benefits of fitness. Therefore, the short-term expectations of a scale display should not swing my resolve to such an extent.

empty highway overlooking mountain under dark skies

Equally, my spiritual resolve should not be dependent upon expectations that are surrogates of faithfulness. Our spiritual goal as Christians should be fruitfulness, blossoming from minds set upon the Spirit, eyes fixated upon Jesus, daily; even when we feel unfruitful. The perfection of our faith doesn’t follow a standard operating procedure, nor a regimented timeline.

Jesus is the perfecter of our faith. This means that He is perfecting our faith exactly in the manner that He intends. We just need to trust the Perfecter and keep our eyes fixed on Him while running our race even when the course before us doesn’t seem clearly marked out.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to praise you from the plateaus.  Help me to keep my eyes fixed on you.  Teach me to set my mind on the things of the Spirit.  Thank you for the faith that you have pioneered within me and the perfecting of the faith, which you have already accomplished.  Lord, don’t stop.  Please continue to perfect me in the power of your Spirit for you glory and fruitfulness.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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“Another Year” – Jan. 1

January 1, 2019

“And God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light.”  Genesis 1:3

Another year has passed.  Another year is upon us.  The flow of time creates natural opportunities for retrospection and planning.  The first day of a new year seems like just a division, natural or otherwise, to review the year that has been and plan for the one to come.

I enjoy the optimism of considering what I want to do and become in the coming year and then creating the goals to make that happen.  All things seem possible on January 1st even though I know that they are not.  My lists of goals are too long.  I can’t possibly achieve all that I want to accomplish within a year.  There will be some goal that have to be sacrificed.  Therefore, I have to prioritize my goals.  I have to determine what comes first.

Prioritizing goals is a wonderful sieve of desires.  What can I live without?

I live a life of abundance.  My problems are only problems in my world.  The inhabitants of the vast majority of the world will view my problems as blessings. So, I sieve.  I sieve my hopes and dreams through the screen of “what I can live without”.

This process quickly reveals the gems of my life.  It also reveals that we are not that far removed from the low tiers of a hierarchy closely resembling the construct of Abraham Maslow.  I can get a little apocalyptic when taking my thought experiment to the extreme.

However, have you ever considered what your basic physiological needs, safety, food, water, shelter, etc., are?  As in any good apocalypse movie (other than the Matrix), mankind can be very resilient until you block out the sun.  Light is a basic physiological need.  The sun might be our essential physiological need.  Without the sun, we will have no food.  Without food, we will die.

My little thought experiment brought me back to my January 1st tradition of starting a new Bible reading plan.  As with any good Bible reading plan, it starts with Genesis 1 on January 1; “In the beginning…”

backlit clouds dawn dusk

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Consider what God did first in his order of creation.  He created the heavens and the earth.  God then created light.  God created the essences of life – light.  However, I don’t think that it was by accident that light was created before the sun and the moon.  God created light from himself.  He is the source of light and therefore the sustainer of life.  You can take  away the sun and the moon but that does not remove the light originating from God.  By the very order of creation, God holds all the essentials of our life including light.

Therefore, I can apply the most brutal of apocalyptic sieves, even the blotting out of the sun, and the final gem revealed is God.  I cannot live without God.

I believe the sweetest aspect of the New Year is the opportunity it avails us to evaluate all the blessings we have, even to the elemental levels of light, remembering how essential God is to our very existence.

He is the one  we cannot live without.

 

PRAYER: Lord, I thank you for another year.  Thank you for all the blessings  you have shown me.  Forgive me for the poor priorities of last year.  Forgive me for forgetting to recognize my reliance upon you in all things.  I cannot live without you.  Lord, remind me of my need for you through this coming year.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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QUOTE (Horatius Bonar) – July 31

July 31, 2014

Horatius Bonar

“It is not opinions that man needs: it is TRUTH. It is not theology; it is God. It is not religion: it is Christ. It is not literature and science; but the knowledge of the free love of God in the gift of His only-begotten Son.”
~ Horatius Bonar

In honor of Horatius Bonar, Scottish preacher and hymn writer, who died on this day in 1889.

Resources:
July 31 – Today in Christian History
Horatius Bonar>Quotes

 

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“BELIEVING DISTORTED TRUTHS” – June 5

June 5, 2013

“Why do you hide your face and count me as your enemy?”  Job 13:-24

What is truth?  What is divine truth?

Truth is a frustratingly illusive prey.

In one moment, truth is a lifelong possession.
It is infused into our very soul.
The divine is the source of every breath.
Our comfort and security are birthed from its kernel.
Steps of faith easily emanate from our very being.
Life without the sweet friend of truth is beyond imagination.

 In an instance, our sweet friend can seem a theory.
The divine is as foreign as oil is to water.
Breath of the spiritual is a struggle of the drowning.
There is no security in words for the one being crushed.
A lonely numbness consumes all feeling of soles stepping in faith.
The dread of never knowing our sweet friend is terrifying.

 Why is truth illusive?  Why does it seem so real in the morning and so illusionary in the evening?

The difficulty with knowing truth is that its perception is filtered through our fickle mind.  The divine truths of God never change.  It is our lens to the truth in our own hearts that is flawed by our perception of self.  As we vacillate in feelings, our lens on true reality is deformed and distorted.

Storm Clouds

Job had concluded in his pain and loss that God was his enemy.  God was never Job’s enemy.  Job’s feelings had distorted the Truth.  He had viewed his circumstances in despair and erroneously concluded that he was hated when in fact he was dearly loved.

No man is immune to the distorting influence of his own mind rebelling against the desires of a redeemed soul.  We can become convinced of untruths spawned by the twisting power of pain, hurt, disappointment, discouragement, and depression.  These powers cannot touch the character of God.  Our feelings can only effect how we perceive the world around us.

English: Bình Minh biển Cửa Lò

This is why we must know the promises of God.  This is why we must not trust our feelings.  This is why we must learn to preach the gospel to our trouble souls.  It is when the reality of our Lord seems to have slipped from our grasp, that we fix our sight beyond what we actually see.  We are not God’s enemy even when we feel unloved.  We are not abandoned even when we feel utterly alone.  We will feel again even though we are numb.  The light is still burning even when we are groping in the darkness.  Purpose is still in place even though all we feel is meaninglessness.

Cling to the Truth in days of sweetness and in those of bitter despair.

Know God’s promises as a song of praise in the light and a beacon of hope in the darkness.

The promises of our Lord safeguard us from believing the lies of our distorted perceptions.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for not changing.  Thank you for being a firm foundation that I know even when I don’t feel it.  Thank you for giving me all of the promises of your Word.  Lord, give me clear eyes.  Help me to battle my own mind.  Keep me from being driven by my emotions.  Keep me from pursuing the lies of my feelings.  Ground me in Truth.  Bind me to you.  Shackle me to your Word.  Write it upon my heart.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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