Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2010 Offering HOPE!

“I hope I make it.” “I hope I get the part.” “I hope you have a good time.” “Here’s hoping we get together again soon.” “I hope it doesn’t rain.” “I hope I brought enough money.” “I hope YOU brought enough money!” “I hope he isn’t upset.” “I hope she gets the scholarship…”


Daily conversation has morphed the word HOPE into becoming synonymous with the word “WISH”. By doing so, the very core value of the word "HOPE" is erased. For if HOPE be merely a wish, we have no HOPE at all. If HOPE expresses any measure of uncertainty, the future becomes meaninglessly unknown - offering no meaningful specifics.


How utterly void of value God’s Word would be without the true message of HOPE.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have A FIGHTING CHANCE.” – Romans 15:4

“And now these three remain: faith, POSSIBILITY, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13

“Now faith is being sure of what we THINK MIGHT HAPPEN and certain of what we do not see, I THINK.” – Hebrews 11:1


If the word be synonymous with any other it must be synonymous with the word, CERTAINTY, bolstered by SECURITY and expressed with JOYOUS ANTICIPATION!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively HOPE by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” - 1 Peter 1:3-9


We are not relegated to superstitious tradition. Much the contrary; we are elevated to see, with anticipation and assurance, a wonderous future prepared for us by Christ! It is not something we “DO”, it is everything WE HAVE!

So as we enter 2010, let's do so with -


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Very New Resolution ...

A friend of mine had resisted efforts to get him to run with our jogging group until his doctor told him he had to exercise. Soon thereafter, he reluctantly joined us for our 5:30 a.m. jogs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

After a month of running, we decided that my friend might be hooked, especially when he said he had discovered what "runner's euphoria" was. "Runner's euphoria," he explained, "is what I feel at 5:30 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays."
-- Neil P. Budge

The “in between times” determine the sole/soul commitment to a given resolution. Begrudgingly or superstitiously approaching a modification in one’s behavior often results in failure. A mental callous develops resulting in a dulled sensitivity to the original quest. Not that the importance of the endeavor has diminished, but the overcoming victory of the pursuit and benefits awaiting the committed participant are at best delayed and too often lost.

That being said, I am tempted to slip into 2010 with the utmost anonymity. If I make no resolution, I fail no endeavor. If I share no goal, I face no accountability. I’ll just stay, “under the radar” unknown, un-relied upon, with little or no responsibility.

Then a verse begins to ring in my heart:

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” - Jeremiah 29:11

The plans HE HAS MADE FOR ME? For my GOOD, and not disaster? To give me a future and a hope?

Wait a minute! I’ve been trying to accomplish that year after year. Hmmmm ... Perhaps, just perhaps, MY plans have not been in MY best interest. Perhaps He has protected me from my will and the results that would have caused me harm so that He can bring me to this year, 2010, and the awareness of His will that has been custom designed and tailor fit to give me a future and a hope.

“…to give you a future…” it’s as if I really never had one while I was dependent upon my will, my strength and my dedication. Have you considered this? There is no future for the non-believer, true; but there is also no future for the uncommitted believer.

“…and a hope.” What is “hope” to the child of God? We will be looking at this in the weeks to come. One thing is for certain, the words used in the Hebrew language for the word “hope” ALL focus upon the certainty of future events. This particular word emphasizes His guarantee.

My New Years resolution? Simply put, to commit to His plan while enjoying the fact that every moment of 2010 has already passed His inspection. His plans are for my good, not disaster, that I might actually have a future, precisely the future He has prepared just for me. I am hopeful; I am confident; it’s a done-deal!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Seeing Christmas in a New Light

“And Jesus said, for judgment I am come into this world, that they who see not, might see; and that they who see, might be made blind.” – John 9:39

Jesus spoke of ‘spiritual sight’ not physical. The religious leaders boasted of spirituality but in reality were spiritually blind. They were the paparazzi of Jesus day, following Jesus only to stand witness against Him at His slightest transgression of their law. In chapter 9 of John and verse 14 they seize opportunity; Jesus had healed a man born blind – on the Sabbath! Some of the Pharisees attempt to press Jesus into further self-incrimination by asking, “are we blind also?”

So Jesus decides to present to them the entire plan and purpose of His coming in a most glorious, and yet subtle manner. Let’s look at that purpose in John 10.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” – John 10:1

“But He that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep” – John 10:2

“To Him the Porter openeth, and the sheep hear His voice; and He calleth His own sheep by name and leadeth them out.” – John 10:3

“And when He putteth forth His won sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him; for they know His voice.” – John 10:4

“And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers.” - John 10:5

Notice that at this point, no one understood what Jesus was saying! And so, Jesus begins to, “flesh-out” his analogy - only to create even more confusion; maybe even to us today!

“Then said Jesus unto them again, ‘verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.” – John 10:7

“All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not hear them.” – John 10:8

I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9

I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” – John 10:11

Simple enough – right? Look again…

Sit, for a moment, as if you were one of His disciples. What did He just say? He is the door? He is the shepherd?


Didn’t He say (vs.1) “he that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber”? What is the sheepfold – heaven? IS THERE ANOTHER WAY BESIDES THE DOOR?

Didn’t He say (2) “He that entereth in by the DOOR is the SHEPHERD of the sheep”? Wait a minute - is He the door or the shepherd? How can He be both? Can He enter HIM?

(3) Who is the Porter – I mean, besides being a door-man? And from where is this shepherd leading the sheep?

We now begin to understand their confusion. Going further verse 9 poses additional problems. If Jesus is the door – why would anyone want to go in and out?

Let’s review the passage once again in the spirit of the Christmas Story.

This world in which we live is a vast sheepfold filled with many sheep. Jesus chose to enter this world in a very miraculous way. As you look at verses 1 – 3 we see a striking parallel to Luke 1: 26 – 35 wherein the angel Gabriel visits Mary and announces the coming birth of Jesus. In Luke 1:34 Mary asks a very logical question:

“Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?"

Listen to what the angel says; it is important for us to understand his reply so that we can see more clearly what Jesus is saying in John 10.

“And the angel answered, and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

The Holy Spirit is the Porter opening the door of the miraculous virgin birth of Jesus into the sheepfold of the world. Anyone claiming previously to be the shepherd was a thief and a robber. No one had entered the world in this manner before or since. It is a CLOSED DOOR, entered and shut by Jesus.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, calls His sheep by name. His sheep hear Him and He goes before them and leads them out of the confines of this world and its system to a citizenship eternally with Him. He is the OPEN DOOR of the sheep. He remains open today for any who will spiritually hear His voice.

He is the REVOLVING DOOR (9) of fellowship leading to the throne of God in prayer by which we find pleasant pasture (Psalms 23) before Him and in our daily lives.

In John 10:24 a frustrated crowd demands:

“…How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly!”

Jesus responds with comfort to those whose eyes are open and who hear His voice:

“Jesus answered then, I told you, and ye believed not; the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believed not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them to Me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and My Father are ONE!” - John 10:30

That is pretty plain talk, isn’t it?

What a wonderful gift Jesus has given! What a wonderful story God has revealed through John. In the hustle and bustle of this Christmas Season, have you heard His voice? Has he touched your spiritual eyes so that you can see Him for Who He really is? Have you received His gift?

Finding balance and living within God’s will begins with becoming part of His family. He calls and offers Himself through His birth, His life, His death and His resurrection!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Who was this man, Joseph?

I have been thinking about the story of Jesus’ birth and one remarkable man who is often overlooked, Jesus’ step-father, Joseph. I came across the following article and would like to share it in it’s entirety with you!

Joseph and Mary would have to be two of the most amazing people - not merely because of what happened to them, but in their responses to those events.

Luke says Mary was astonished, perplexed, afraid, incredulous. She was not, as the Church has depicted her - at least initially - passively accepting her role as bearer of the Son of God.

Someone has suggested we imagine it this way. The angel Gabriel comes to a teenage Palestinian girl and says she is to give birth to the Lord, the King. 'I think you must have the wrong Mary,' she would have replied. 'I mean, you'll need someone influential, important, of royal descent, well off (you can't have the Lord running around in rags, or receiving a sub-standard education)... If the Lord is to be born into poverty, well, you'd need an experienced mother who's got several kids already (who are healthy and well-adjusted)... I don't even know how to hold a baby, and you're telling me that my first baby will be the Lord. What if I drop him? And, by the way, what is Joseph going to say?'

Mary continues: 'Then imagine the scene with Joseph. "Why Mary you're looking big... Why, Mary, you're pregnant! Who with?" And I answer, "With the Lord." What's his line after that?'

Doesn't happen every day, eh?

But my point this morning is not about what happened to these two Paelstinian peasants, but what they did with what happened. Here are two human beings who are invited to collaborate with God in the most dramatic event in history: God being clothed in human flesh.

Now the Gospels and the Church invite us to believe that Joseph was not the physical father of Jesus. He was 'born of a virgin'. I for one have never doubted that. If Jesus the Christ was God-with-us it seems to me to be a lesser thing to believe that he entered and left the world in miraculous ways...

What do we know about Joseph? He was a descendant of David, a carpenter, maybe older than Mary (and maybe a widower with children) who was alive when Jesus was twelve, but may have died before Jesus' public ministry (why, perhaps, was he not at the wedding in Cana?). That's it.

Oh no it isn't. When he learned Mary was pregnant - presumably to someone else - Matthew gives us some interesting insights into this amazing man. This must have been a staggering blow to him. His bride-to-be had betrayed him. She'd been 'sleeping around.' Most fiancées would have exploded in vindictive rage. His gut reaction might have been to humiliate Mary as well as drop her. But he didn't.
How should a God-fearer respond to a situation like this? There are six very helpful clues in the Joseph-story.

First, Joseph was a thoughtful person. (Matthew 1:19, 20). So the first thing he did was to do nothing. He 'considered' the situation. For days, weeks, months... who knows? No doubt he prayed fervently as well. The moral for us: when you have to make a difficult decision, don't be in a hurry: more mistakes are made by hasted than by delay.

Second, Joseph was a 'just' man (verse 19). That is, he lived under the law of God. His obvious question here would have been, 'What does the law of God say?' Answer: (see Deuteronomy 24:1): he had to put Mary away. According to Jewish custom, a betrothal could only be terminated by 'divorce'. Indeed, Mary should have been stoned. So the moral for us: Always ask 'What does the Word of God in Scripture say about this?' Nothing is ever right if it contradicts God's will for us.

Third, Joseph was a tender, compassionate man (verse 19). He believed that justice must be tempered by love. He had to obey the law of God, that was clear. But how to do it in Mary's interests? How could he avoid embarrassing her? Joseph did not want to put Mary to shame. We know the sequel: it was revealed to Joseph that Mary was not guilty of adultery at all, but was highly favored by God, impregnated by the Spirit of God. The lesson here for us: Always ask, not only what God's law requires, but how to apply that law in love. Not even Joseph's hurt feelings or his religion's legal requirements could overrule something more important: his compassion for someone who was 'down'. 'In spite of the terrible thing he thought Mary had done to him and to their dreams, Joseph still had deep feelings for Mary the person and could not find it in his heart to add to her burden, or to use the modern phrase, "to stomp on her while she was down'.' (John Claypool, in an unpublished sermon).

Fourth, Joseph was open to mystery, to the incredible. Now he was a male, and would have prided himself on his logical approach to things (and carpenters have to think in those terms too!). Mary impregnated by God? What? Is there a precedent for this? Ridiculous! But no, Joseph's response was not circumscribed by his logic or his experience. What Gabriel said to Mary, Joseph also obviously believed: 'With God all things are possible.' That's what faith is all about - letting God be God, not restricting God within the limits of human experience...

(There are books of 'bloopers' which collect the statements of people who have trouble here. Like what happened with the historic flight of Wilbur and Orville Wright in 1903. When word got back to their home town Dayton, North Carolina, about what happened in the Kitty Hawk the editor of the newspaper there refused to believe it and scoffed: 'I do not think human beings will ever be able to fly; and if anyone ever does, it won't be anyone from Dayton!').

Fifth, Joseph was humble enough to be willing to listen to the voice of God, even in a dream. I have found that people in so-called 'Third World' countries are more open to hearing God in dreams and seeing God in visions than better-educated Westerners are. I have asked pastors' conferences in Africa and India: 'How many of you responded to God's call to ministry in a dream?' and the majority have put up their hands. Never happened like that in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., New Zealand or Australia!

But sixth, Joseph was a man of action. With only the word of Mary and words in a dream to guide him, he took Mary to be his wife, and took her away from Nazareth (ostensibly to register in his home-town of Bethlehem, but also, I have no doubt, to get Mary away from the wagging tongues up north!). He later moved the little family to Egypt to get away from the murderous Herod, and then back to Nazareth rather than Bethlehem to avoid the political climate.

John Claypool again: 'Sam Keen defines a wise person as one who knows what time it is in life, and Joseph eminently qualifies for that title... He was profoundly aware of what was going on around him, and just as importantly, had the courage to act on the sense of promise that beckoned him to venture forth. This courage of course was the offspring of trust - in Mary, in the angel, and in his own experience of truth, and as we now know, Joseph was not disappointed. In fact, because he did trust so courageously, look who came into the world - a Son who was taught from the cradle, in Carlyle Marney's term, to "faith it through life", and who was able, again and again, to recognize when his hour had come and to venture forth in courage and purpose.'

Last week in Canberra I heard someone quote the Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggeman's response to the question 'What is the Old Testament all about?' 'It's all about a God who gives us laws but who then gives himself permission not to enforce them sometimes,' (or words to that effect). When Jesus was confronted with a woman who had committed adultery, he first said 'I do not condemn you' before he said 'Go and sin no more.' Pharisees, ancient and modern, who only ask 'What does the law say?' and not 'How can I act like God, with compassion?' could never say that. Jesus had learned some wonderful lessons from this wonderful man Joseph.

So this Christmas, I invite you to use this wonderful man Joseph as your guide when confronted with a difficult moral situation. Let us do what Joseph did, namely: reflect deeply, for as long as it takes; ask 'How does the Word of God instruct me here?'; act always with compassion; be open to mystery; listen for the voice of God, in whatever medium God chooses to speak; and then act.
Rowland Croucher
December 2000.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Staying Balanced

The holiday season! Thanksgiving, Christmas; good food, good fellowship, good times!

It’s a time for me to renew acquaintances I have not seen at the gym since last Christmas! Some are working in preparation for the grand Christmas feast. Some are working to ELIMINATE the grand Thanksgiving feast. Others are temporarily dedicating themselves to accomplish both!

I tend to go in cycles spiritually; what about you? I’ll find myself “feasting” on the Word of God, enjoying the fellowship of His presence, relaxing in His will… only to become self-content, self-indulgent leading to the sinking feeling of being spiritually useless. And it can happen so quickly!

How can I stay above it all?

My thoughts are turned towards the story in Matthew 14: 23 – 33. Here we witness Jesus’ disciples in a boat that is being tossed during a violent storm. Jesus comes to them walking on the water. Picture that for a moment … There’s JESUS, calmly walking above the storm. Jesus greets them as if the storm did not exist:

“… be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And He said, come. And when Peter was come down out of the boat, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid and beginning to sink, he cried, saying Lord save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught him, and said unto him. O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?”

It is incomprehensible - defying the very laws of physics but, Peter walked on the water TO GO TO JESUS. He was totally focused upon JESUS! He had a definite purpose - TO GO TO JESUS! He gave no thought for himself or his circumstances. While he kept his focus upon Jesus he was able to rise above the storm. But the moment he took his eyes off Jesus he began to sink.


Why does my spirituality come and go in cycles? Because I take my eyes off of Jesus – and it need not be a storm that distracts! ANYTHING that takes my focus off of Him will cause me to sink. It can happen so quickly!

The story doesn’t stop there. Matthew, an eye witness to the event, tells us that Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught Peter IMMEDIATELY! Jesus is ever so near and ready to take hold of us when we call upon Him.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us”- 2 Corinthians 4:7

Earthen vessels, filled by faith, rooted and grounded in love, to accomplish more than can be comprehended, by His power, throughout all the ages!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Who's Will? Who's Power?"

I understand my faith should be grounded in the FACT of God’s presence and not the “feeling” of His presence; but should I totally ignore my feelings? Something about that just seems unreasonable. After all, I AM HUMAN. I HAVE FEELINGS; I CAN BE EMOTIONAL!

The Bible has comforting news for us. Emotions are said to be neither good nor bad, but the behaviors that arise from them can be either positive or negative. For instance, anger is an emotion – not necessarily a pleasant emotion at that. But the Bible does not define anger as sinful. In Ephesians 4:26 we read:

BE ANGRY, and yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil and opportunity.”

Throughout the book of Psalms King David expresses a myriad of emotions, joy, sorrow, anger, loneliness, frustration, and fear. But God refers to David as a man after His own heart. God expresses His love as David records in Psalm 36:5-7:

“Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O Lord, you preserve both man and beast. How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

Feelings are a natural part of being human. While we take refuge in the FACT of God’s presence and will, we do not totally ignore feelings that may signal we are missing the mark.

1 My will and My own power: Symptoms: alienation, loneliness, butting head into wall after wall, breaking of self, fatalism.

My will under God's power: Symptoms: frustration, superstition, anxiety— God won't be manipulated this way, even though many try–including a high percentage of Christians!

God's will but under my power: Symptoms: burnout, putting God or others on my timeframes, overplaying my role, messiah-complex, being judgmental toward others.

God's will under God's power: Symptoms: peace, sense of safety, perspective, poise, energy when I need it; BALANCE!

“Letting Go, Letting God.” “God’s Will Under God’s Power”. “A Pause, not Applause”. “Coming in Second and Winning”. “Being IN THE WAY without being in the way”. “A Proper Positioning”.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2

The Author and Finisher of even our faith! Who better to trust? Who better to serve? Who’s will, Who’s power?

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you. We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work. Growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” – Colossians 1:9-14

Think of it; ALREADY QUALIFIED! All that is left is obedience and the peace that comes from enjoying your one-of-its-kind, customized and wonderful will of God! Until Sunday, God's richest blessings upon you!

1(excerpt from Xenos Christian fellowship

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Letting Go

When should we “let go and let God” deal with the challenges of our life, and when is it time to “suck it up” and face the challenges of life on our own?

Obedience allows us to enjoy the reality of His care and His will. A true awareness of Christ’s promise to lead us, allows us to relax in His care. No challenge can arise that has not first been met head-on by Him. But do we really believe it? Do we actually live it? Or do we live our life as if [we are] prisoners to its circumstances?

“Casting ALL your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” - 1 Peter 5:7

I am always impressed when theologians give us deeper insight into the meaning of a verse based upon precise words used in the original text. Although I am not a theologian, allow me to attempt to make this one simple observation: ALL means ALL, and that’s ALL - ALL means. Casting ALL your care upon Him.

This is not to say that sadness, disappointment and fear are strangers to the Christian. The challenges of life are experienced by every living person. Christians, however, do not experience them alone!

Our faith is not in the “feeling” of His presence, our faith is in the FACT of His presence! When we “feel” alone, it is precisely at that moment we claim His promise; He has never been closer!

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;” - 2 Cor. 4:8-9

“Be careful for nothing [In nothing be anxious—ASV]; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” - Phi. 4:6-7

"The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." - Isaiah 40:28-31

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ." - 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

" all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:37-39

"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:14-16

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
- Ephesians 3:20-21

So, go ahead; “let go, and let God.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Pause, Not Applause

We’ve looked at God’s will as a position rather than a place. It is a reassuring relationship, not a random responsibility. Living within the will of God is recognized and enjoyed as we are obedient. We recognize prayer as our primary method of communication with God and His Word as His primary method of communication to us - therefore we regularly frequent both opportunities. We receive fellowship and counsel from those whose lives proclaim Christ. Having therefore the willingness to yield to His will, the verification of our spiritual position through obedience, and the readiness to respond to opportunities, we DO. That’s it; WE DO! We DO whatever it is in front of us TO DO.

Ah, but one might quote Psalm 46:10:

"Be still and know that I am God.".

If THIS is the secret to knowing God’s will there is ample evidence that the majority claiming Him are most certainly IN HIS WILL!

But no; this “stillness” is not the picture of a once raging river having become a quagmire, a cesspool of lifeless inactivity. No, this phase denotes the vibrant, active, involved, servant of God totally relying upon HIM for sustenance while willingly DOING His will and giving Him all the glory! It is “going limp” to self-will and resting in His promise and provision. It is facing the uncertainties of life with the assurance that His finger that points our way is only part of His hand that supplies our needs.

Put into context, Psalm 46:10 takes on a different meaning. It tells us that in the process of DOING His will He is there to accomplish those things we cannot.

Go back and read all of Psalm 46 if you want the full power and promise of God to uplift you! Oh my! This little phrase sneaks up on you as you read:

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah."

May you enjoy His presence, His peace, His glory, His power, His provision, His plan, His will!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Coming In Second - AND WINNING!

The thrill of being a participant! The mental and physical preparation; the miles of running; the proper nutrition; training; the focus – the finish line! It’s a long distance race. The course is not clear but you have been assured, you will know the way as you proceed - focused upon the prize!

The prize? Oh, it is everything! Its value is unimaginable. There is no sacrifice too great [so as] to compare with the reward. People have willingly given their very lives to participate. Every obstacle only strengthens. Every mile reenergizes with hope and anticipation. The only thing that matters is that moment, that race, that day!

Sure, there were difficult days during training. There were discouraging moments when you wondered if participation was really necessary – certainly there would be room in the viewing stands. Why go through the pain? Why? Because of the prize! You must not focus upon the past pain – this might discourage you. The “what if” moments of the race might cause you to break your stride.

But there were good days in training! There were days you felt you could conquer the world. You were invincible! Why even go through the race? You’d proven your stamina and were proud of your progress. Why participate? Why? Because of the prize! You must not focus upon the past successes – they might cause you to place false hope in “self” causing you to drop your guard, making you vulnerable and subject to every whim that might come along the way.

No, TODAY is the race! It is NOW. The failures and successes of the past no longer exist! NOW IS THE TIME! It is a fresh, NEW BEGINNING! And as the gun goes off you strain towards the finish line. You cannot see it; you do not know how far it is; you do not know the obstacles that lie ahead – but you strain with every fiber of your being – focused upon the prize!

And you finish - in SECOND PLACE - AND WIN!

But how can this be?

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.
Prov. 3:5,6

But made His own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
Ps. 78:52

And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
Is. 58:11

And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, Who hath not left destitute my master of His mercy and His Truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master's brethren.
Gen. 24:27

And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.
Is. 42:16

To Him the Doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name, and leads them out. When He puts forth all His own, He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him because they know His voice.
John 10:3,4

For this God is our God for ever and ever: He will be our Guide even unto death.
Ps. 48:14

He Who crosses your finish line FIRST, [HE] designed your course, [HE] paid your price [HE] made the sacrifice, [HE] goes before you – to guide you, to protect you, to clear the path, to restore your soul, to encourage, to refresh, to strengthen, to carry, to console, to draw you closer to HIS prize!

May we all one day say with Paul:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.
2 Timothy 3:7,8

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Being IN THE WAY without being in the way!

“Doing my best to stay out of God's way while being in it..."

“I keep tripping over my own two feet!”
“I can’t get out of my own way!”
“I feel like I’m my own worst enemy!”
“Sometimes I can’t tell if I am coming or going!”

Sound familiar? Why is it that when I try so hard to do my very best – I fall so easily? I want God’s will for my life - but it is so hard to find! Why doesn’t He just show me His way?

Perhaps the real question I must ask myself is, “on whose terms do I want God’s will?” Perhaps what I have actually been praying is, “here’s what I want God; bless my desire.” And so, having prayed (and therefore excusing whatever I do as God’s will) I pursue whatever I want with little or no thought at all of God.

Paul “trips all over himself” in Romans 7:14-20:

“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no long I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing! Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

He goes on to say in verse 24:

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ My Lord!”

The will of God is not a place - it is a position. Therefore, the child of God does not aimlessly search for His will but rather lives within it. We understand this more clearly as Jesus explains:

“…He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice…”
–John 10:3,4

Experiencing the truly balanced life and living within God’s will are the result of obedience. Obedience allows us to “hear” his voice and enjoy life to the fullest while following Him in the path He has prepared for us. We will discuss in detail precisely what the Word of God says about obedience. Here are a few simple truths for today:

1. To live in God’s Will we must be God’s children.
2. Through our obedience we can be assured that we are living within His Will. Obedience in prayer, study and service removes self-imposed detours and distractions.
3. God ALWAYS positions Himself ahead of us. He clears our path so that nothing too great will overtake us. He prepares us, through our obedience, for challenges ahead that He will use to reveal His love more clearly to us.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone! Sunday's BLOG will be, "Coming in Second, AND WINNING!"

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Proper Positioning

The “Self Help Industry” is expanding throughout the United States and the world. PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) books, infomercials and seminars create an air of expectancy and hope for millions. Ad campaigns exploit our subliminal seduction with destiny to, “Be all that you can be!”

Self-help. SELF-help. Truth be told, it isn’t about “self” at all:

“There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” – Proverbs 14:12

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” - Isaiah 53:6

“As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” - Romans 3:10, 11

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” - Romans 3:23

“For whosoever shall keep the whole low, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” - James 2:10

“If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” - 1 John 1:8

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Lord.” - Titus 3:5, 6

“For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not of works, lest any man should boast.” - Eph 2: 8,9

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold, from your vain manner of life received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” - 1 Peter 1: 18-19

“Marvel not that I said unto thee, you must be born again.” - John 3:7

"[The jailer] brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." (Acts 16:30-31)

To know the will of God, we must become a child of God and it is IMPOSSIBLE to become a child of God apart from the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is nothing WE can “do” to be acceptable in the sight of Almighty Perfection and Purity. There is no such thing as “Self-Help” when it comes to our eternal state. On the contrary:

“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father, Who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have WE not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name have WE not cast out demons? And in Thy name done many wonderful WORKS? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” - Matt 7: 21-23

The will of God? The first step is clear:

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is long- suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotton Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life!” John 3:16

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give the unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.” - John 10: 27, 28

Nothing is more vitally important than our position IN CHRIST. The price has been paid on Calvary. Has he called? Have you heard His voice? Will you follow?

Wednesday November 25, 2009 “Being in THE WAY, without being in the way!”

Saturday, November 14, 2009

God’s Will; A Celestial Scavenger Hunt?

Is it just me? It seems that every time I hear someone speak about “God’s will” they are always looking for it. It conjures questions like:

“Why did He hide it?”
“If He wants us to live in it, why is it so hard to find?”

Or one I remember from my childhood:
“Where did you put it when you had it last?”

God’s will for my life … wow! Just the thought of the creator of the entire universe being so detailed that He would have a specific will for my life is enough to set my mind into a tailspin. However, the Bible, God’s written letter of love – TO US, clearly and unequivocally tells us we have been on His mind and in His heart for quite a long time.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart!” - Jeremiah 1:5

“You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!” - Psalm 139: 16

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” - Jeremiah 29:11

“The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:24

This particular subject was intended to be an article. I think, however, the topic demands more attention and time. Let’s take the next few “Posts” and examine God’s will – what it is and what it is not.

We’ve been “spiritually exercising”. We’ve begun to experience the benefits. In the next several “Posts” we will begin determining the “why” of it all. Take a look at those verses again and let them ring in your heart:

Jeremiah 1:5; “I formed you; I knew you; I set you apart!”

Psalm 139:16; You saw me; You scheduled my life; it is permanently recorded in Your book!

Jeremiah 29:11; "I know the plans I have for you, DECLARES THE LORD, plans to give you hope and a future!

1 Thessalonians 5:24; “The One who calls you is faithful and HE WILL DO IT!”

Next Sunday we will explore, "A Proper Positioning". Please feel free to comment or add verses to this blog. May God richly bless you until then!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Enjoying The Benefits

Have you noticed the great migration? Former joggers have left the pavement for rooms filled with elliptical machines, stair-climbers and a host of stationary bikes. Pilates, resistance and load exercises, low intensity low impact workouts are becoming more and more popular within every age group.

Why? Doctors have found that as the body ages, years of constant pounding and stress often result in crippling damage. Conversely, a disciplined program of low-impact stretching, breathing, walking and resistance exercises can result in:

1. increased brain power;
2. elimination of stress;
3. increased energy;
4. convenient opportunity to exercise more;
5. improved relationships;
6. stronger immune system;
7. healthier heart;
8. increased appetite for healthy foods;
9. over-all increase in performance;
10. improved movement;

Let’s look at these in the light of God’s Word, the Bible, and see how our “spiritual exercises” WILL benefit. Take a moment to look up the verses. You might want to keep them on hand – it’s always nice to refer back to the Trainers Manual:

1. increased brain power; Philippians 4:8,9; Psalms 1:1,3
2. elimination of stress; Philippians 4:6,7; 1 Pet 5:7
3. increased energy; Colossians 1:10,14
4. convenient opportunity to exercise more; Hebrews 13:5; Jeremiah 33:3;
5. improved relationships; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Ephesians 4:29
6. stronger immune system; Psalm 119:11
7. healthier heart; Psalm 31:23,24
8. increased appetite for healthy foods; Isaiah 55:1,3; 2 Timothy 3:16,17
9. over-all increase in performance; Psalm 27:1; Isaiah 40:29,31
10. improved movement; Philippians 4:13; Romans 12:5,8

“And the very God of Peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, WHO WILL ALSO DO IT.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:23,24

Until Wednesday, God Bless

Peeking Before You Peak

Okay, time for a bit of personal confession. And by the way, I am convinced that whoever said, “Confession is good for the soul…” was confessing someone else’s short-comings - not their own!

If you are a member of a gym or exercise program you’ve seen the individual I am about to describe. Their physical appearance indicates that fitness and dietary discipline have not been a priority. But their new gym shoes and name-brand workout clothes catch your eye. Their apparel and physical condition are as incongruent as racing stripes on a four cylinder Honda Element!

Nevertheless, you watch as they move from machine to machine. They are careful to inconspicuously adjust the weight, sit for a few moments, then re-adjust the weight to a higher level before moving to the next machine to repeat the process. What is most striking is the manner in which they continue to glance at the mirror after completing their ritual. I call it, “peeking before you peak!” They have not been committed long enough to result in any visible changes but still, they peek.

I laugh at the scenario; that is, until I realize that often I do the very same thing. Take for instance, this blog. The first several postings seemed to flow. I just felt a peace knowing that it is His Word, the Bible that speaks to the hearts of mankind. But then - then I hit a writer’s block. I couldn’t come up with a pithy statement or saying. I became concerned about what creative catchy phrases to use to “enhance” the message.

I asked my friend and sister in Christ at work, Crystal Puckett, to pray with me about it. And it hit me! I mean right then! (As I side note, I will be very careful about what I ask Crystal to pray for from now on.) The truth is I was peeking. I was looking in my spiritual mirror at ME. I took my eye off of the mark. I had writer’s block because I was concerned about me and what I was going to write and how you the reader would be impressed. I was trying to dress God’s word in Nike shoes and Champion Sweats, strutting by the mirror of “self” before even exercising one “deep-knee-bend” in prayer.

An old hymn says, “Only one life will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

“Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.” – Psalms 90:17

It isn’t me who should be seen in that spiritual mirror – as we grow in Him, we should reflect Him and His love to others; let Jesus be seen in me.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Resistance: "Friend Or Foe?"

While working as a nurse and caregiver during WWI, Joseph Pilates refined his exercise methods. “Resistance and load” would no longer be avoided – they would be conquered, molded into submission, and utilized as a tool to improve the life of the user. Pilates stimulates smaller stabilizing muscles thus providing “core” strength and balance necessary for proper body alignment, ease of motion, and balanced living. Knowing the proper starting position of any Pilates exercise is of paramount importance. It may at first be necessary to use props such as balls, pillows or cushions to insure proper posture. This will focus resistance to the areas intended. If the starting position is not correct the body cannot benefit from the resistance and load. Exercise becomes a daily grind of wasted time and wasted effort with little or no evidence of progress. However, proper posture, disciplined force, focused concentration and patience result in the regeneration of stabilizing muscles and the strengthening of the body from its core through its extremities.

Spiritual conditioning is very much the same. Resistance and load is no stranger to spiritual lives. While we may, “suck it up and suck it in” externally, internally our very core can be under tremendous stress. Knowing the proper starting position of any spiritual exercise is of paramount importance:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary [the devil] prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 5:6-11

When the Author and Finisher of our faith speaks so clearly there is little more that man can contribute. Until Wednesday, God bless!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

WEBLOG; I never saw it like that!

The road to attaining and maintaining true balance begins with belief. Belief that there is a need for change and belief that faithful diligence to a proven, prescribed program will bring about desired results.

“If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” - 1 Tim 4:6–8

As the physical body requires proper nourishment, fluids, exercise and rest, the spirit of mankind requires regeneration and a maintenance program for spiritual health. Isn’t it just like God to use the physical world to explain spiritual truths? Jesus did this very thing in the form of parables; earthly stories with heavenly meanings.

And so before any change in direction can be implemented in an individual’s spiritual life, they must come to a recognition and belief that change is necessary. They must recognize they are headed in the wrong direction. Sincerity does not assure desired results. An individual can be sincere but sincerely wrong. Therefore, proper instruction is required by a Master in Spiritual Training. Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes unto the Father but by me.” – John 14:6

Having surrendered to His instruction, a commitment is then made to a different spiritual lifestyle – one that nourishes the spirit daily, quenches spiritual thirst with the living water (John 4:7-14), and is strengthened by the exercise of godliness. Experiencing true balance is the result of obedience to the will of God.

Perhaps it is a trite observation; I will let you be the judge. I find it amusingly curious that writing a BLOG has taken on new meaning. BLOG; Believing, Loving, and Obeying God!

Even more curious, Webster’s Dictionary tells us that the word was included in 1999 and is an abbreviation for the word, “Weblog”. WE-BLOG; it is what sets Christians apart, WE Believe, Love, Obey God; true balance!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Coordinated Whole

"With body, mind, and spirit functioning perfectly as a coordinated whole, what else could reasonably be expected other than an active, alert, disciplined person." - Joseph Pilates

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" - Romans 12: 1,2

As with any piece of machinery, overall productivity and efficiency depend up maintenance and calibration of individual components. So too the body, mind and spirit. Joseph Pilates realized that the body requires careful attention and calibration. It was to him an expected requirement for enjoying an active, alert and disciplined life.

Joseph Pilates did not invent the body’s requirement for continual improvement. He simply recognized what God had already set into motion.

Psalm 139:14; “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and my soul knows very well.”

Here the Psalmist offers an uncontrollable adoration to God for His unimaginable handiwork. Every component of the human body - sets into motion a reverent awe. So powerful is this handiwork of God that the Psalmist can only say, “my soul knows very well.” This phrase denotes the impossibility of man to even utter, with absolute knowledge, how the eye can see, how the ear can hear, how all the components of the body work together. But deep within man’s soul is the recognition of God. Mankind may defiantly attempt to remove every visible outward expression of God - but the souls of even those who would outwardly defy Him, forever internally proclaim Him.

And so, as believers present themselves to God for His service, He speaks clearly through them to the souls of those to whom He calls. And by so doing we prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Upcoming Blogs

Tomorrow, November 1, 2009 we will be looking at, "The Coodinated Whole". Joseph Pilates understood the need for total physical balance. Taking tips from him, we will make application to our "spiritual balance"

On Wednesday, November 4, we will continue our "spiritual exercise program" with a blog titled, "WEBLOG". This will be a light commentary with a strikingly fun conclusion!

"Experiencing True Balance" will be posted each Wednesday and Sunday. I would like to invite you to "Follow" this blog, post comments and share it with your friends. It is a fresh look at God's Word, the Bible, with careful application to our busy lives. Join us!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


"Physical fitness can neither be achieved through wishful thinking nor outright purchase” - Joseph Pilates

"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end there of are the ways of death." Proverbs 14:12; Proverbs 16:25

Joseph Pilates believed in his method of physical training with every fiber of his being: "I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They'd be happier." - Joseph

Pilates was a skinny, sickly child suffering from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. His mother encouraged a strict regiment of naturopathic skills that transformed the child, developed the man and has influenced generations. There were no short-cuts. Physical fitness would not be achieved by luck or sincerity. It was not a commodity to be purchased and adorned. It took a deep inner commitment!

Spiritual health and balance is curiously similar. It cannot be achieved by luck or sincerity. It is not a commodity to be purchased and adorned. It takes deep inner commitment.

In 1859 Charles G. Finney, early American evangelist, studied these two verses in Proverbs and made the following statement:

“The original word denotes what lawyers express by saying a thing is right "prima facie"--on its face--at first appearance--as the case presents itself at first view and without looking at the other side. Unless objections appear, it is to be assumed as true. The word implies a want of certainty. It does not preclude doubt or further investigation. Indeed if the matter be one of any importance, there ought to be further investigation, notwithstanding all this appearance of being right. The original word applies naturally to an opinion adopted loosely, on a merely surface view and without honest and thorough investigation. It also implies a credulous state of mind as to this way that seems right. The mind is very willing to satisfy itself with a mere seeming.” – Charles G. Finney

On the other hand, in John 14:6 the New Testament states with precise clarity:

“I am the way the Truth and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” - Jesus Christ

John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not parish but have everlasting life!”

Ephesians 2: 8,9 states, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; AND THAT NOT OF YOURSELF, it is the gift of God NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.”

Finney ended his sermon with the following statement:

"My dear hearers, the time is short ere we shall know our fitness or unfitness for the eternal world, past all uncertainty, or mistake. No longer here; the places that know us now shall know us no more then. What is your state today? Do you say--I have examined my foundation; I have not been satisfied with merely seeming to be right? But even you, if this day were surely known to you to be your last, would say, (would you not?) I must be more certain. I must go over this whole ground again, for how can I rest while the least possibility of doubt remains!"

It is a lifetime membership, open 24/7, and the beginning of true spiritual balance! Cost? No, you are invited by a Friend Who paid the price on your and my behalf, His name IS Jesus. It is a matter of opening your heart and life to Him. Not mere mental assertion to His existance, but a deep inner commitment to follow Him and know Him better daily. The whole country, the whole world, should begin this journey; they'd be happier!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Understanding The Purpose

"Contrology (Pilates) is complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit. Through Contrology you first purposefully acquire complete control of your own body and then through proper repetition of its exercises you gradually and progressively acquire that natural rhythm and coordination associated with all your subconscious activities.” - Joseph Pilates

“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have hard, and ye have preached to every creature that is under heaven, of which I, Paul, am made a minister” – Col. 1:23

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
-1 Cor. 15:58

“That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” –
2 Timothy 3:17

A.) Dedication to the task; B.) faith that repetition will result in the desired goal, Joseph Pilates tells his students that they will acquire a natural rhythm and coordination. And so we begin the painful contortions. Think about it, someone we have never met tells us this is good for us and we blindly follow. Oh, we’ve seen some results in others and so we hope the same might work for us – but we didn’t know it would be so painful and take so long to see the results!

Isn’t the correlation striking? The pain, the promise, the prize! And so we struggle; spiritual muscles fighting against us – rebelling at the thought of being stretched and torn. More satisfied to be relaxed, flabby and unusable. But we press on – with only faith to encourage us that the pain is not in vain, that all this work will ultimately do us good. That we might continue in the process of being perfected – no, not being perfect, but growing and abounding in preparation to enjoy His perfect will for our lives. It’s a stretch. But just as your body will gradually, progressively acquire that natural rhythm, you can be, “confident of this very thing, that He Who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ!”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

1st Interview

“Moreover, such a body freed from nervous tension and over-fatigue is the ideal shelter provided by nature for housing a well-balanced mind that is always fully capable of successfully meeting all of the complex problems of modern living.” – Joseph Pilates

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain thee; he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” – Psalms 55:22

I knew intuitively that before I could reap the benefits of my exercise program I had to commit completely to my trainer. Testing my body fat, taking my measurements and weighing in were humbling experiences. Discussing my diet was even more painful. But, to experience progress, I had to know where I was starting. There was no fooling Joey. He was not delicate with his prognosis. He called it like it was and told me the truth about myself. I could either accept it and proceed or make excuses and remain out of shape. The first thing Joey attacked was my diet. I was guilty of starving my body throughout the day and then gorging myself with a huge caloric intake of non-essential foods right before sleeping. Joey showed me how disciplining myself to consume small amounts of healthy calories from all the essential food groups throughout the day would give me the energy I needed. My increased energy would allow me to burn useless fat while all the time feeling more alert and healthy.

Isn’t that just how God works? When we totally commit to Him, when we are willing to truthfully see ourselves as He sees us and as we truly are, we are prepared for Him to work in us that which is ultimately best for us according to His plan. Once we commit, He is there to sustain us. It begins with a change in our spiritual diet. How often do we allow ourselves to become so preoccupied with “life” that we spiritually starve ourselves? We often find any number of non-essential fulfillments upon which we gorge ourselves only to become spiritually fat, spiritually lazy, spiritually unfulfilled. So, take some time and consider your spiritual health. Is there an intake of spiritual food throughout the day? Do you possess an ever present awareness of His sustaining hand in your life? Are the burdens of this life, the unnecessary “spiritual fat” burning off and is your spiritual diet resulting in increased energy, an invigorated alertness to His will and a healthy desire for spiritual health? He will provide a well-balanced mind that is always fully capable of successfully meeting all the complex problems of modern living!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Strengthening Our, "Spiritual Core"

A little over 4 years ago I began working out. I hired a personal trainer to guide me through my workout. Joey mentioned a program called, "Pilates". He said it would strengthen my core, help me with my balance, teach cleansing breathing techniques and prepare me for heavier exercises. Upon entering the gym I saw 6' 2", 225 pound men rolling on balls and struggling through what appeared to me to be moves more appropriately accomplished in tutus than sweat pants. I was embarassed for them. That is, until Joey began to put me through what can only be considered a final chapter in, "Foxes Book of Martyrs!" In the next several issues of this blog we will be reviewing physical training techniques originated by Joseph Pilates. We'll make spiritual application of these techniques to our daily lives and begin, "Strengthening Our Spiritual Core."

Shooting Straight With A Crooked Stick

It amazes me how God chooses to still use me in spite of my sinfulness. Somehow, He prepares the way before me. I flounder into that way, often unaware of His guiding hand. He brings circumstances or individuals along the way who are precisely in need of what He has placed upon my heart. He urges me to speak or act, and then rewards me as if I deserved the honor of His blessing for having been obedient. In reality, I am the one most blessed because my intention was not [necessarily] focused upon ministering at all. I had not prepared myself for service. I had not been faithful in prayer. Somehow, He chooses to shoot straight with a crooked stick; amazing! And God always is right on target!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Finding Balance

Balance is often thought of as the equal measure of opposing values distributed in a uniform manner so that the whole becomes “stablized”. However, such a structure cannot stand alone and is at the mercy of it's surroundings. It’s stability is temporal. It is susceptabe to any and all change, positive or negative. So is this true balance? Should a "balanced Christian life" be so vulnerable? Is it necessary to experience negative choices to enjoy forgiveness and encouragement? Is "THIS" balance?

This blog is intended to openly discuss life's circumstances and how they impact the Christian's faith and stability. What is our foundation? Is it solid? How deep is our footing? Is our faith deeply rooted or is it a facade - impressive to the eye but only resting on the surface of it's foundation?